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3 Looming Abortion Battles in 2013

3 Looming Abortion Battles in 2013

2012 was a busy year in the fight for abortion rights. Not surprisingly, 2013 is shaping up to be just as contentious as anti-choice advocates push for more restrictions in states and from the courts. If this last year saw a host of mandatory ultrasound laws and additional waiting periods as the most popular anti-abortion measures, what will 2013 bring?

1. More battles over Planned Parenthood funding

Planned Parenthood is a favorite target of anti-abortion activists who compare efforts to defund the health care organization as nothing short of a crusade. But because Planned Parenthood is one of the largest suppliers of health care to low income women across the country, its a crusade with tragic consequences. In Oklahoma for example, Planned Parenthood clinics in Tulsa are one of the leading providers of food vouchers and counseling services under the Women Infant and Children’s (WIC) program. But because the organization as a whole advocates for abortion rights, anti-choice zealots in the state have refused to renew Planned Parenthood’s WIC contract because they see it as somehow creating “taxpayer funded” abortion. The result is that at the end of the month, thousands of Oklahomans will lose access to those benefits all in the name of “ending abortion.”

Oklahoma is far from alone here. Texas, Arizona, and Ohio are all states with similar crusades afoot and 2013 promises even more.

2. The so-called “fetal pain” bans

Another favorite abortion-restriction we can expect to see more of in 2013 is the so-called “fetal pain” abortion ban. Modeled after the successful “partial birth abortion” bans, “fetal pain” bans purport to outlaw abortion at around 20 weeks, or when anti-choice advocates claim a fetus can feel pain. Both partial birth abortion bans and fetal pain bans rely on an ever-increasing body of pseudo-science to support their claims that these restrictions are both reasonable and necessary.

For the most part these bills have been wildly successful, passing in Nebraska, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma. But because these bans limit abortions pre-viabilty they are in direct conflict with the holding of Roe v. Wade that said the state may not restrict a woman’s right to chose abortion pre-viability. Most recently a state judge in Georgia put that state’s 20 week ban in question and Arizona plans to defend its 20 week ban all the way to the Supreme Court. Which is exactly the point of these bans–to create a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and hope the Supreme Court is sympathetic to their cause. That’s why we can expect to see even larger battles around these 20 week bans in 2013.

3. Telemed abortion and the future of abortion rights

Like any medical procedure, abortion carries with it risks. But the sooner a woman in need of an abortion has access to the procedure the fewer the risks. That’s why the expansion of telemedicine, and in particular the expansion of telemedicine and the use of drugs like RU-486 offers so much promise for women. Medication abortion carriers fewer risks than surgical abortion but is not always a realistic and available option for women, especially those who live in remote parts of the country. And with the ability to purchase drugs like mifepristone online, some have argued we’re just a few years away from women performing abortions with very little, if any, need for medical assistance.

That’s why anti-choice activists are going after both the use of telemedicine for performing medical abortions and doctors who administer the drugs, because once women truly have the ability to “self-abort” the ability to restrict women’s choices in life by refusing them full bodily autonomy evaporates. That is the issue at the heart of Jenni Lynn McCormack’s case and one the Supreme Court could take up within the next two years. In the meantime states like Wisconsin and Ohio have passed laws so restricting, medication abortion is all but unavailable in those states. There are models for similar legislation elsewhere in 2013.

The sad truth is, if 2012 was a busy year for anti-choice advocates then 2013 promises to be even more so. And with the legal challenges happening as quickly as the legislative restrictions, it is guaranteed the issue will find its way back before the Supreme Court. The question is, will 2013 be the year that happens?

 

Related Stories:

Conservatives Just Getting Started With Abortion Restrictions

Conservatives Say Next Election Needs More Abortion, Rape Talk

Is “Pro Life” Just Another Name for “Anti Woman?”

 

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Photo from davefayram via flickr.

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183 comments

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10:43AM PDT on May 16, 2013

Kerrie,

ASSUMING human life begins with conception,

Why should the legal rights of an embryo supersede the rights of those already born?

Why should life/welfare of living breathing sentient beings be compromised for the rights of an entity which cannot think or feel?

9:00AM PDT on May 16, 2013

He who denies that human life begins with conception does not need to contend with religion but science. To deny this certainly of biology is not to express a lack of faith, but a lack of basic knowledge of human genetics, something that is even known by the general public

2:20AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:04AM PST on Feb 21, 2013

The fact that I want to have sex, doesn't mean I'm an incubator. This is my body an noone else should have a say about it. Simple as that.
Somehow the abortion talk is only concerning women. Men don't have to deal with it after all. They don't carry babies, they just have sex! How many women are forced or coerced into sex or just plain raped??? But even if that isn't happening that doesn't mean they are incubators to PRODUCE babies even if the babies won't be loved or care for.

Don't forget that it's not women making those babies on their own! there is ALWAYS a men involved who doesn't have to worry about carrying it, he just has sex!

5:41PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Thanks

9:10PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

'This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.'

OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

9:05PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Christopher, would it be too capricious of me to point out that you make an airtight case FOR abortion?

8:58PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

'We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear vio

8:57PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

"She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

8:55PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

'At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

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The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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