One of the conclusions reached in the Roe V. Wade verdict was that prior to viability, women have a right to have reasonable access to an abortion. What pro-life and anti-abortion activists have been arguing over ever since is exactly what constitutes “reasonable.” Although bills like “fetal pain” bans, the new “heartbeat” ban in Ohio that would outlaw abortion as soon as a heartbeat could be discerned (and which passed the House earlier today), or personhood amendments have been running rampant in the past two years in an attempt to directly challenge the premise of a right to an abortion prior to viability, in general, most legislation had previously been involved in trying to see how much a state can erode access to abortions without actually trampling on the rights set up in Roe V. Wade.
Ultrasounds, waiting periods, banning public funds from being used in abortions, telling women they will get cancer, go infertile, want to kill themselves, or whatever they feel like claiming in their “Right to Know” informational packages, all serve to force women to put in extra days, extra money and extra resources into getting an abortion. At the same time protests, stalking doctors, threatening builders that construct clinics or mangers that rent space that might be used for them, all work together to try and limit the number of clinics that exist and people willing to work in them, in order to slowly decrease the available providers, increase the wait time for an abortion, and throttle off access on that end.
It used to be an incremental process. But anti-abortion activists have grown more impatient. Now, they have made a mission to invent new “regulations” for clinics in an effort to cut down on state licensing. Tighter licensing means that the state governments with anti-choice majorities can decide how many clinics they want open, simply by creating onerous rules with unreasonable time frames, then shutting down clinics that simply cannot comply.
It already happened in Louisiana, where TRAP (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers) laws forced one clinic to close and was about to do the same to the other clinics in the state.
Now the same argument of violation of due process is being enacted in Kansas, where the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has just announced that it will be suing the state over their new abortion clinic regulations, provided to clinics less than two weeks earlier. The board of health has just told papers that none of the three clinics have passed their inspections so far, already denying a license to one clinic and likely choosing to do the same with the other two. Nancy Northup, President of CRR state, “Between the rigid and unnecessary building standards and the absurd deadlines, this licensing process is a complete sham. Our clients have a long record of providing safe and high-quality OB/GYN care, including abortion services, to women over the last thirty years. These regulations have nothing to do with safety standards, and everything to do with an aggressive anti-choice government trying to shut down abortion providers.”
So what are some of these regulations being demanded by the state, and what makes reproductive health activists call them unreasonable? Some involve rooms sizes and standards that can’t be adjusted without tearing down buildings, all created with the same rules as those used by hospital surgery rooms. They involve having drugs on hand and numerous amounts of blood types available that are completely unrelated to simple first trimester abortions. They involve rules on the temperatures of surgical rooms and recovery rooms that aren’t even set for hospitals or other surgical centers. And they ask for blood pressure cups on hand for all ages — including children and newborns.
All of these regulations, and with two weeks to have them in place or lose their license to operate? How could this be seen as anything but an attempt to cut off all access to abortions in the state? And how is that anything but another battle in the war on women?
Photo credit: PeacoToons