This week started out with Abortion Providers Appreciation Day, which falls on the anniversary of the murder of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider killed by an anti-abortion assassin. Tara Culp-Ressler wrote a detailed and fascinating article on the harassment and fear many doctors still face today just because they perform pregnancy terminations. The Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, the last public abortion provider in the state of Missouri, announced a new clinic escort program to battle sidewalk harassment of patients outside the building. This also makes it the perfect week for a judge to declare that the Kansas state medical board was acting inappropriately when it revoked the license of Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who provided mental health examinations for patients needing later abortions from Dr. George Tiller. The board stripped Neuhaus of her license after claiming she allowed patients to claim they needed abortions for mental health reasons that were unjustified, because apparently forcing 10-year-olds to give birth is a reasonable thing to do.
There’s little doubt that harassment and intimidation are still a day to day part of many providers’ lives. The recent clinic break in and vandalism in Montana is just the latest example. Now, the clinic’s owner is asking for it to be treated as a hate crime, noting exactly how personal that destruction was. “This person took meticulous time destroying everything that was important to me, everything that I have worked very hard for all my life,” wrote Susan Cahill. ”He destroyed the plumbing and heating system in the building. He then completely destroyed all my medical equipment, ripping apart, breaking every glass object, bending, stabbing knives into or punching hammer holes into, and then methodically cutting and sticking knife holes into the faces of my friends and family, including pictures of my baby grandson.”
There are a vast number of ways to harass medical professionals who provide abortions. A group in Minnesota has just now started picketing a Catholic hospital to demand it get rid of a doctor it employs, even though the doctor is not, according to the hospital, violating the church’s medical directives. Ironically, the couple leading the picket only know that the doctor performs abortions because they found out when they met with that doctor for assistance during their own high risk pregnancy.
In other news, it’s spring, which means that flowers and grass are coming back to life after a winter of hibernation. Also coming back to life? Lots of repeat abortion bills. A bill to criminalize all abortion in Colorado popped up for the third year in a row, only to once more fail to make it out of committee. One Ohio legislator has reintroduced a heartbeat ban, although it appears to be going no where, to the original heart beat ban bill author’s endless chagrin.
Mississippi is in the process of putting a 20 week ban on the books, but, now that it’s a mostly done deal they’ve returned to committee to rule it 20 weeks gestation versus post-fertilization, shaving an extra two weeks off the time an abortion can be obtained. Arizona’s bill to allow warrantless clinic inspections is moving forward as well, despite the fact that the only time a warrant has been sought to inspect a clinic was right before the bill was introduced, almost as if they were setting the stage for justification for the bill. Louisiana has made a number of abortion regulation changes in their new health codes, the most alarming of which is the fact that a doctor can now only provide 5 terminations a year before they classify as an abortion provider, as opposed to the 5 per month they could do before. As a “provider” he or she would be forced to follow all of the building regulations that the abortion clinics are forced to undergo, or pay massive fines and face jail time.
On the other hand, Utah has agreed to no longer force people to watch an informational video about fetal development prior to undergoing an abortion if the pregnant person’s life is in jeopardy. Thanks, I guess.
Finally, many politicians have said a number of ridiculous things in order to try to appeal to the most anti-choice fringe of their party for primary support. One South Carolina candidate declared that there are groups supporting infanticide, including killing babies up to three months old. An Alaskan politician declared birth control is cheap and can be easily airlifted into the state via Alaskan Express, so there was no reason for the state to help low income people access it.
Wonder why politicians just can’t stop talking about opposing abortion and birth control? Presidential wannabe and former Governor Mike Huckabee boils it down for you: “Opposing abortion is how we win elections.”
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