The lawmakers of Missouri have been having a grand time this legislative session trying to see exactly how many abortion restrictions they can pass into law. With only one clinic in the entire state, they’ve had to come up with some truly original bills, including dual parental notification or mandatory quarterly clinic inspections.
One bill that isn’t original, however, is the law that would change the waiting period in the state from 24 hours to 72, a move that I have explained could result in closing the only provider left in Missouri. A person who has decided she wants to end her pregnancy isn’t inclined to spend an additional three days “reflecting” over her decision — she did that before she set the appointment. Instead, she will travel a little bit further, even if it is across the state border, and obtain an abortion with less hoops to jump through, and end her physical discomfort earlier.
While debating the 72 hour wait, bill sponsor Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger told a panel that he’s simply trying to help pregnant people make better decisions, and no “major decisions” should happen on the same days. To prove his point, he pointed to other decisions that take time and thought, like buying a car, or remodeling your living room.
“Even when I buy a new vehicle — this is my experience — I don’t go right in there and say, I want to buy that vehicle, and, you know, leave with it,” Gatschenberger, whose comments were recorded by Progress Missouri, said, according to Think Progress. ”I have to look at it, get information about it, maybe drive it, check prices. There’s lots of things I do going into a decision — whether that’s a car, whether that’s a house, whether that’s any major decision that I make in my life. Even carpeting. You know, I was just considering getting carpeting in my house. That process probably took a month… I wanted to be as informed as possible, and that’s what this bill is, having them get as much information as possible.”
Lovely. The thing is, having an abortion isn’t like buying a car. Here’s five reasons why:
1) A car doesn‘t get more expensive every week you wait to buy it. If you decide to buy a car, that car is going to remain at relatively the same price, whether you wait a few weeks or purchase it as soon as you see it. An abortion doesn’t work like that. The further a person progresses in the pregnancy, the more expensive the procedure will be once you are past the first trimester. It’s an increase that often affects those who are struggling to find the money to even obtain an abortion. Many have enough on hand only to find out that they are further along than they knew and now need additional money to end the pregnancy. And, unlike a car loan, odds are you aren’t going to find a bank willing to give you a loan to cover it.
2) There is more than one car dealership in the state. Imagine you decided to buy a car, but there was only one dealership in the entire state. Hopefully you have a car already that you are planning to trade in, so that three hours on the road isn’t as much of a hardship as it would be if you needed a ride, a rental, or a bus. But now you have to either go back home, or stay in town. You’ve already had to make arrangements to miss one day of work, or find someone to care for your children. How can you stay away that long, or make the trip again?
It’s a ludicrous scenario, though, because car dealerships are everywhere. That’s not true for abortion providers. Especially in Missouri, with its sole clinic, getting an abortion usually isn’t just driving conveniently down the street, or hit a few places to comparison shop. In many states your option is traveling to the clinic an hour away, or the clinic four hours away, and the deciding factor is who has the earliest availability for an appointment.
3) You don‘t get harassed at a car lot. If you had to walk in front of a massive protest to go check out a new vehicle, have people call you a murderer for your fuel emissions, thrust city transit maps into your hands and beg you not to enter the lot, would you still buy a car at that location, or would you find someplace else to go? Pregnant people don’t have that choice, however. They often run a gauntlet of outsiders, ranging from compassionate to angry, all intent on doing whatever they are legally allowed to do to ensure that you do not have an abortion. That sort of activity would have customers flocking out the door, but for a pregnant person who doesn’t want to be pregnant any longer, there simply isn’t any option but to move ahead. A waiting period makes that happen twice.
4) Your health isn‘t impacted waiting for a car. For some reason, lost in the entire pregnancy debate is the fact that the vast majority of those seeking a termination are in the first trimester and, as anyone who has ever been pregnant can tell you, the first trimester is an absolutely miserable period of time in a pregnancy. The nausea, the fatigue, the hormonal shifts that cause headaches and pain mean under the best of circumstances it is like two straight months of the flu. In its worst forms, it can be crippling. The vomiting can lead to dehydration and hospitalization. The headaches become debilitating migraines. Fatigue can make it impossible to hold a job, or care for family. Pregnancy hurts. It has a physical component that lawmakers completely ignore. When Gatschenberger allegedly waited to purchase his car, you can bet he didn’t have to spend that time hunched over a toilet, puking, or in the hospital on IV fluids.
5) A car isn‘t a legal right. And that’s the most important point. No one has a legal right to own a car. A pregnant person has a legal right to end that pregnancy. Unless that changes, abortion has absolutely nothing in common with any type of commerce, transaction, or any other purchasing decision that Gatschenberger chooses to callously compare it to.
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