Mandatory Waiting Periods

26 states require women to have counseling prior to having an abortion with a specific amount of time in between, usually 24 hours. 9 of these states require the counseling be in person which requires 2 separate trips to the facility. One of the most common reasons reported for seeking an abortion is lack of financial resources to care for a new child. They are already scrapping by to make ends meet. They may not have the financial resources to take of work for 2 days.

In particular these laws impact women in rural areas who will also have to travel to get to their appointments. With a 24 hour waiting period this means finding a place to stay overnight as well as time off of work and travel money. Sometimes they stay in a cheap hotel or if they are lucky at a friend or relative who lives closer than they do. Sometimes they just sleep in their cars.

This is a hardship these women shouldn’t have to endure. Requiring counseling on the basis of “informed consent” is completely patronizing and assumes pregnant people decide to have abortions on a whim. It assumes that they haven’t already put thought into the decision prior to scheduling an appointment and that is simply not true.  People do think about their decision before calling an abortion clinic, they think about their financial situation, they think about their emotional and mental situations. They think about whether they want a child and if they can take care of a child. In the end they decide that at that moment in time, they cannot continue the pregnancy.

Unfortunately, this hardship is not enough for some people. Last year South Dakota law makers extended the waiting period to 72 hours. As of now that law has been blocked by the court system. In spite of this, lawmakers in Utah are trying to do the same thing. Representative Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) has proposed a bill that, if approved, would extend the existing Utah waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

Are the women in rural areas supposed to take 2 trips for this? Because last time I checked gas is pretty expensive. In Utah (at this point in time) it ranges from $2.84-$3.49 a gallon. Or should they just take 3-4 days off of work? If they did that where do they stay? A cheap motel may be an affordable option for one night, but for 3 nights? Should they just sleep in their car all three nights? That is absurd. Women do think about it before having an abortion, and they still go through with them even when states mandate counseling and waiting periods. Can we all just acknowledge these laws serve only one purpose; making women seeking abortions lives more difficult.

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