The recent number of proposed anti-abortion bills is alarming.
Not only does the House want to go after all funding for Planned Parenthood even though by law no government funds can be used for abortions services already, but… some state lawmakers are introducing some scary bills when it comes to women retaining control of their reproductive lives.
Take South Dakota. In March Governor Daugaard signed a law requiring women to have “dissuasive” counseling and have to wait three days before they can have an abortion—the longest of any state law. In Arizona, the Senate passed a bill that forbids a doctor to perform an abortion based on the race or sex of the fetus (several other states have similar bills). And in Florida, before a woman can have an abortion she’d have to have an ultrasound, and in some states with similar proposed bills, would also require her to look at the ultrasound before she had the abortion.
Other states want to go further when it comes to forcing a pro-life agenda onto women. Ohio has proposed a bill that would prohibit abortion if there was a detectable fetal heartbeat. And Georgia wants to make “prenatal murder” a felony punishable under homicide law. Many legal experts believe if this kind of bill passes, it will open up a can of worms for making miscarriage a crime.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is proud to have passed six pro-life bills already and claims Mississippi is “the safest state in America for an unborn child.” What he doesn’t say is that it is the unsafest state for a child once it is out of the womb: the state has the highest mortality rate for children. As Jon Stewart recently said, Mississippi can say it is the “proud home of the biggest discrepancy between pre and post natal health.”
Post natal problems aside, what’s scariest about these kinds of proposed bills? If states are successful in making it harder and harder for women to make what is a private, personal decision on their own terms, in effect it means that the pro-life agenda is in legal operation even with the existence of Roe v Wade. And more state laws like these will strengthen the pro-life agenda to ultimately go after Roe v Wade itself.
I know I have made my position clear here before but these kinds of bills deserve pause. Why should the pro-choice position remain the legal position? Because it recognizes that our beliefs about when life begins is extremely personal, and is based on moral and religious beliefs for many people. For this reason alone, the political sphere attempting to control what is ultimately a religious belief violates the separation of church and state, and when you look at it this way, lawmakers really have no business trying to force these kinds of laws. The pro-choice position also allows each person to make the decisions about their reproductive lives themselves, as it is very personal, and should not be controlled by anyone but whose life it involves.
Why do conservative law makers insist on pushing their beliefs and butting into people’s personal lives? Because they are resolute that they are right. Like having to go to the mat about being about whose God is the “right” God, doing whatever it takes to be right about abortion will only divide us more than we already are, and lead to even more adamant fights on based on moral righteousness. In this case, one side’s moral righteousness aims to control the lives of all women, and I for one will never accept that.
” Because they are resolute that they are right. ”
This is definitely part of it.
I also wonder, though, how much of the fight to cut back or end access to safe abortion and birth control is related to traditional ideas about sexuality and gender roles.
The U.S. has changed drastically in the last 40-50 years. Women as a whole have more autonomy now than at any other point of history (to the best of my knowledge.)
I think this frightens some people.
Laura, also remember that in many parts of the country, there are no doctors willing to perform abortions because the anti-choice crowd has frightened those doctors out of doing them with their intimidation tactics. These laws only embolden that crowd.
Seemingly harmless laws such as an extended waiting period become a hardship for those who have to travel hundreds of miles because they would have to either return home and then go back to the clinic or doctor’s office later, or stay in a motel for those few days. Either way, this can cost the woman and her companions, if any, lots of extra money due to food, travel, lodging, and lost wages just to get the abortion done.
With the U.S. Supreme Court leaning more to the Right than it has in decades, the likelihood that these burdensome laws will be upheld (remember the reasonable but subjective “undue burden” standard put forth by Justice O’Connor in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case?) will increase, despite 3 other women now serving on our highest court.
Deegee, always great to read your comments…agree that what gets to the Supreme Court will not have the best pro-choice odds….
Hi Laura! Long time reader, first time commenter here. Love your site.
In all fairness, the Georgia “prenatal homicide” law is wildly unpopular within the state. Last I heard, the bill is rotting in committee. It seems that some of the GA “pro-life”rs are starting to realize the logical end of their beliefs – that is, that women are nothing more than incubators and must be treated as such – and are backing away from the stance, even just by a few inches. The fact that the law criminalized miscarriage (until proven innocent!) really scared people.
These laws are all horrible, but I’m attempting to maintain my faith in humanity and hoping that the hardcore conservative politicians are ousted next year. Until then, I won’t stop talking about these issues and telling people what their representatives are REALLY doing!
Charlotte! Thanks for being a long time reader and commenting~I am glad Georgia on the ground is not seeing eye to eye with the prenaal suicide thing.
Also, in my dismal moments about odds of roe v wade roll back, I will remember your words to have faith in humanity! Keep your comments coming, please! ~L
I am visting the US next for a conference in Vegas and I have been reading this blog for a while.
Between this and the funding cuts to planned parenthood and I do wonder what the US really thinks of women. I will try to keep an open mind but I am concerned.
lucky for people like you speaking out.
Boy I am concerned too..with the government on the brink of shutdown (which in and of itself speaks volumes about what is wrong with our gov’t) I saw today on news etc. that the pro-life congressional members are pushing even harder for funding cuts to Planned Parenthood. Even the segments don’t get it right–they seem to think that the gov’t funds abortions at these kinds of places–not. And they don’t talk about how with these kinds of cuts it will end up costing more in the end–! Unsettling~
Well, I can feel my blood pressure going up just reading about this. Nothing like a bunch of men (and women) I don’t even know making very personal decisions about my body, it’s like a nightmare to see women’s rights being chipped away. I honestly believe that some of the drive that conservatives have behind this type of thinking is a sort of punishment for women; most will allow an exception for rape, but if a woman consents to sex and gets pregnant, she should have to deal with the consequences. It’s the age old conservative way of thinking that sex is only for procreation and women who partake only for pleasure should be punished. I agree with Lydia, patriarchal societies aren’t comfortable with women having too much freedom, reproduction has always been the best way to keep women *in line*. It’s a very deep rooted way of thinking, and since religion has lost it’s grip on the way people (especially women) choose to live, the religious conservatives have to make laws to force these old beliefs on the public. What scares me is that in this day and age, in this country it is working. I wonder what’s next: no birth control, wives being the property of their husbands, church attendance mandatory by law? I hope the voters of this country will open their eyes otherwise it will no longer be a country of freedom. (At least not for women!)
Yes, there is a whole rash of horrifying anti-choice legislation abound in so many states right now. South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, etc. Abortion is already so taboo, so expensive and so inaccessible. You’re completely right, Laura, this awful short sighted thinking is going to “end up costing more in the end” and not just financially. Jacinda, have you read the book “The Handmaid’s Tale”? It is similiar to what you described.
Xena, I haven’t read it but I just looked it up and read a short summary–I can’t imagine living that way after experiencing the freedom that we have in the last few decades. I don’t think anything like that will happen anytime soon in this country, but it seems that some conservatives see nothing wrong with writing laws to fit their own beliefs. It seems that one idea in the story was that the government claimed to know what was best for women and that they were just looking out for them; though they were really just fulfilling their agenda. That is exactly what the pro-life movement claims today–abortion is bad for women and women would be protected if they didn’t have the choice to have one. (I believe many of them would even say that being childfree is also bad for women.) This is what bothers me the most, when they claim that they have women’s best interests at heart, when clearly the well-being of women doesn’t matter to them in the least.
I think the debate isn’t really about morality or religion anymore–it’s about science and humanity. With the progression of science (ultrasound/dna/visibility/awareness), the clarity of the life inside the womb has increased tenfold, which gives the public more reason for pause when it comes to extinguishing that life. No one here wants to be killed, so it makes sense to consider not killing someone else for the sake of humanity alone.
This is true progress.
Juno is the future of pro-life feminism. One does not destroy the other.
I also don’t think this is a religious question: there are plenty of religious as well as non-religious people on both sides of the abortion debate. The separation of church and state argument doesn’t make much sense because beliefs about abortion are not necessarily based on religion.
Summer, I have to disagree about so-called “pro-life feminism.” Controlling your body is a basic right, so I don’t see how any attempt to prevent women from controlling their own bodies can possibly be called feminist. Once you start comparing an abortion with “killing someone else,” you end up controlling women’s bodies: any woman who gets an abortion becomes an accessory to murder.
As far as “Juno” goes, the main character in that movie made her decision not to have an abortion based on false information spread by a pro-life activist (a fetus at that age does not have fingernails).
As most feminists realize, the problem with “choice” is that people don’t make their choices in a vacuum. It’s hardly a free choice when anti-abortion activists push women to make the “choice” not to abort.
Summer and J–thanks for weighing in and putting forth your views. The answer to when “life begins” and the right to control one’s body sure are cornerstone issues. The former I still contend is based on one’s beliefs (which often are driven by what one’s moral values or religion tells them). We interpret science through the context of our attitudes and beliefs. Agreed that taking away a woman’s right to her body will never constitute feminism in my book. And Juno–I like that she takes responsbility for her situation, and don’t like the pro-life overtones e.g., the fingernail business etc.. in real life, unintended pregnancy results in young women having babies with a lack of post natal support. Anti abortion legislators want to stop abortion but also fight to take away important services to women–aka you have to have the child but once you do, you’re pretty much on your own. Maybe instead of going to the mat on an issue people will never to see eye to eye on, we need to do more of working together to stop unintended pregnancies to begin with….
A beating heart is a beating heart. As Dr. Seuss would say, “a person is a person, no matter how small.”
Hi Summer, Well, like I have written before, there are many views on this and seems there will always be a divide….
a very costly divide.