It’s been a long, long week, especially for those fighting for reproductive rights in the state of Missouri. The literally dozens of anti-abortion restrictions proposed in Missouri continue to pass through the legislature, including the 72 hour waiting period. As one news outlet reported, “Not even Rep. Stacey Newman’s knitted uterus can stop them.” The uterus, which Rep. Newman kept on her desk during a recent debate, was probably the closest a number of the legislators had ever gotten to actually seeing one, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to level restriction after restriction on women’s reproductive organs.
Sam Lee, long time anti-abortion activist and at one point avid “Rescuer” who had been arrested over 50 times, told newspapers, “It appears that longer waiting periods coupled with good counseling give women a longer time to think about this decision and in many cases decide not to have an abortion.” That statement didn’t pan out when I interviewed a clinic worker in Utah, where a previous 72 hour wait passed, who told me that people who came in for initial consultation always returned after their three day wait was complete. By the time they reach the clinic to start the process they have already thought things through and set appointments only once they are firm in their decisions.
Missouri may be plowing ahead undaunted on multiple regulations, but other states are having a harder time passing their own bills. Kentucky’s proposed mandatory wait period is stuck in the legislature, as has happened the last few years such a bill has been introduced. New Hampshire bills to tighten abortion clinic licensing and add new reporting requirements that could identify patients seeking terminations have been either voted down or sent back to committee. South Carolina is unsure if they will be able to get a TRAP bill that could close clinics by forcing medically unnecessary hospital admitting privileges on the providers to pass, although they are confident that a “20 week” abortion ban will. Anti-abortion activists are also getting very nervous that the Democratic governor in West Virginia has yet to sign their state’s new 20 week abortion ban, making them wonder if a veto is on the way.
Alabama is still pushing through four bills to restrict abortion rights, and one news personality writes a painful personal essay on how those bills, if they become law, would have forced her to carry a severely malformed fetus to term. Rhode Island is debating bills on both sides of the abortion rights issue, from introducing more so-called “informed consent” requirements including a mandatory ultrasound to a bill meant to “prohibit state involvement in women’s personal matters.” The restrictions are a reminder that even “blue” states are facing huge restrictions when it comes to reproductive autonomy according to Carolyn Mark, president of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women, who states, “We may be a blue state, but we do not have the support of the General Assembly.”
In Minnesota, lawmakers have introduced their own 20 week ban, but it is unlikely to become law as the Democratic governor would veto it if it made it through the legislature and to his desk. Maryland is also proposing a 20 week abortion ban, even though it has little hope of going anywhere. A ban in the state would be the most important one to pass since the original 20 week ban in Nebraska, and for the same reason: it would directly target Dr. Leroy Carhart, who moved his later abortion practice to Germantown after he was forced to stop offering late second trimester abortions in Nebraska.
Oklahoma and Louisiana are both moving ahead with their own trap bills requiring admitting privileges, which are expected to close all but one or two clinics in each state. The Louisiana house committee has approved the regulations, which one opponent notes are more strict for doctors providing abortions than for doctors in outpatient surgeries like dermatology, oral surgery or plastic surgery. Bill supporters say really they are just “protecting women’s health.” The bill sponsor in Oklahoma goes even further, stating that it’s a doctor’s obligation to fix any complication since that doctor “caused” it in the first place. “It makes sense to require the doctor who performed the abortion to have clinical privileges because he or she is the one who best knows what the complications are — since he or she caused them — and should be part of the medical team that treats the woman’s complications.” In other words, you broke it, you fix it.
An elderly Iowa woman was arrested for breaking an injunction that is supposed to keep her away from Planned Parenthood buildings, and the conservative press is just as aghast as her husband. Of course, they don’t mention that her husband happens to favor justifiable homicide when it comes to dealing with those who provide abortions. Meanwhile, Michigan Right to Life claims one Congressman is opposed to bans on insurance covering abortion procedures because he wants “cheap abortions for his daughters.” Finally, every conservative pundit in the country is horrified that someone is using a coat hanger pendent as a fundraising tool to support low income women who need charity to help them access a termination. Maybe they should take a look at Hobby Lobby’s knitting needles next.
Photo credit: Rep. Stacey Newman via Facebook
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