Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, pro-choice, reproductive rights

Potential New Anti-Abortion Laws in FL

For most the November/December time frame is set aside for family gatherings, lots of food and present buying/giving. Apparently this “tradition” is not followed by Florida lawmakers. It seems Florida lawmakers spent their holiday season coming up with ways to further limit abortion access in the state. Some were more extreme than others.

First up we have State Senator Mike Fasano (R- New Port Richey) who has drafted legislation to name January 2012 “Pregnancy Resource Center Month.” Pregnancy Resource Centers aka Crisis Pregnancy Centers already receive tax payer funding in Florida, despite the fact that they have been shown to provide medically inaccurate information to pregnant customers. Fasano doesn’t think that is enough though and wants to commend the “the compassionate work of the volunteers and staff at Florida’s pregnancy resource centers.” Because lying to people is oh so compassionate…

Next up we have Representative Daniel Davis (R-Jacksonville) who is going to re-propose a bill that will ban abortions past 20 weeks. Similar legislation was proposed last year but failed to make it out of committee. That isn’t going to stop Rep. Davis though. Jacksonville.com has him quoted as saying “I’m going to work hard this session, and hope we have a different outcome.” The bill does include an exception for pregnancies that danger the life or permanent health of the pregnant person but not for victims of rape or incest. Yep, there’s that compassion anti-choicers are so famous for.

The most problematic new piece of legislation to come out of Florida over the holidays comes from Representative Charles Van Zant (R-Palatka) who proposed a full on abortion ban. Unless the life of the pregnant person is under serious threat all abortions would be illegal. According to the bill the “woman’s life is a superior consideration to the concern for the life of the fetus and the woman’s health is a superior consideration to the concern for the health of the fetus when such life or health concerns are in conflict.” Well hooray for that at least. If an abortion is preformed at least two doctors will have to certify that the life of the pregnant person was in serious threat and that not terminating the pregnancy would decrease the patient’s chances of successful treatment from a fatal disease. If this isn’t done, the doctor who performed the abortion could face life in prison. Yuck.

Luckily Van Zant has proposed similar legislation in the past and it never actually makes it to the point of becoming a law but the other two bills could very well end up getting passed. Clearly Florida has an extremely conservative government and their lawmakers seem very unconcerned with the well being of the women in the state. On that note, remind me not to move to Florida.

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Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, Government Policy, pro-choice, reproductive rights

Arkansas Personhood

                There are very few things in the world of reproductive rights that annoy me more than the concept of “fetal personhood.” The potential implications this could have if it becomes a legal reality are astounding. Beyond outlawing abortion, this could also limit birth control options, in vitro fertilization options and stem cell research. These potential consequences terrify me for the women who live in states that are attempting to make it a reality.

                These consequences are abominable in themselves, but what really bothers me about “fetal personhood” is that it automatically removes personhood from the pregnant person. With “fetal personhood” a reality, the pregnant person is no longer a person. That the breathing, thinking, feeling pregnant person’s wants and needs are rendered completely irrelevant is beyond appalling to me.

                That is why I am always happy to see them fail. Recently Personhood Arkansas filed amendment language with the state that would define “personhood” as beginning; you guessed it, at fertilization. Luckily Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel knows nonsense when he sees it. McDaniel cited the ambiguity of the measure as the primary reason for rejecting it.

                According to Arkansas News he said “the text was misleading as to the relationship between the measure and federal law.” A specific aspect they mention is the title: “the ballot title makes no mention that the measure would prohibit the use of public funds for abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger and would authorize the Legislature to prohibit abortion under any circumstances to the extent permitted under the U.S. Constitution… McDaniel said the measure failed to acknowledge that its adoption would directly flout controlling law by the U.S. Supreme Court that a state law purporting to ban abortion at any stage of gestation except to save the life of the mother cannot pass constitutional muster.”

                According to Digital Journal, Personhood Arkansas is planning to edit the amendment and then re-file it with as many of the recommendations as possible. They are also apparently preparing a lawsuit for the anticipated second rejection. Of course they are. Because it would be ridiculous to actually understand that women are people too, not just uterus bearers. Given the lack of approval personhood has received in the other states that have attempted it, it seems unlikely the attempt in Arkansas will be any more successful. I am grateful for that, but the fact that people are even trying to make it happen just makes me sad.

Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, Government Policy, reproductive rights

Another Money Wasting Anti-Choice Law

               A proposed law in Washington (the state) seems to be attempting to turn abortion clinics into Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Titled the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” this proposed law would require abortion clinics in the state to provide detailed information about “the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed, and that the abortion will end the life of the unborn child” as well as watch a detailed video about the procedure. It also requires the provider to discuss the “immediate and long-term consequences” of the abortion procedure.

                The bill includes specific details as to what information the video must contain such as “the anatomical and physiological characteristics of an unborn child at various stages from conception to natural birth,” lists of alternatives to abortion including a list of the addresses and phone numbers of agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and services to assist a woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent. It also requires the video to include the fetal heartbeat at four to five weeks gestational age, at six to eight weeks gestational age, and each month thereafter until viability. The bill requires the states Department of Health to produce the video and printed materials and abortion providers must purchase them at cost in order to be able to provide them to patients. There is so much wrong with this that it is absurd.

                First, it is a clear violation of a doctor’s right to free speech. The government cannot require doctors to tell patients about “consequences” that don’t exist and given the amount of misinformation that circulates among anti-abortion groups it is unlikely that the required information will be accurate. It will likely be more lies about how abortion causes breast cancer or mental illness.

                On top of that it will cost Washington tax payers money. I’m sure the Washington Department of Health has other things on its list of things to do in 2012 that don’t involve supporting an anti-woman agenda, why not just let them do that instead of forcing them to take on this silly project? Plus the law will most certainly be challenged if it passes and the cost of producing the materials will also be covered by the state.

                Given the amount other states have spent defending pointless anti-choice laws; it seems Washington lawmakers need something else to do if they want to avoid wasting money. For example in Kansas, anti-choice laws have wasted almost $400,000 to defend the personal beliefs of the lawmakers. Meanwhile, the state’s budget cut all funding to the Kansas Arts Commission. It has been shown time and again that students who participate in the arts do better in school so clearly that money could have gone to much better uses than defending laws that shouldn’t have been passed in the first place. Let’s hope Washington lawmakers decide to do better than wasting money on this shameful law.

Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, Government Policy, pro-choice, reproductive rights

PRENDA

                So here is some more ridiculousness from the U.S. House of Representatives.  Earlier this week Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced a new pro-life bill in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitutions called the Susan B. Antony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. Whew, what a mouthful! So what is the purpose of this verbosely titled bill? Well it is to make sure that women aren’t allowed to get abortions based on the race or sex of the fetus.

                Rep. Franks seems to think that when women are getting abortions they are getting them because of the race and/or sex of their baby. The logic behind banning sex based abortions almost makes sense. I mean in some Asians countries people are having abortions because the fetus is a girl and not the wanted boy child. The thing is though, that is not a common occurrence in the U.S. Most abortions happen before the pregnancy is far enough along to be certain of the fetus’s sex. The few that do happen after that time are predominantly done for the health of the mother or for fetal defects. Plus, a woman shouldn’t have to give her reasons for wanting/needing an abortion anyway. It is a legal procedure that she should be able to access at her discretion.

                I have to admit I am completely flabbergasted by the race based ban though. To my knowledge not only is that not even a thing, pretending that it is a thing is highly offensive to women of color. Aside from various pro-life choice sites claiming Planned Parenthood is really a front to commit racial genocide by killing off the African-American population through abortion, I was unable to find anything showing that women decide to have abortions because of the race of their fetus. If that is happening, like the gender based abortions, it is a shame but the fact remains that a woman shouldn’t have to justify her reasons for seeking an abortion.

                This fact makes the entire law unenforceable. For example how are law enforcement officials supposed to determine if it was broken? Would they simply question each patient before/after the procedure to determine the patients motivation? Because they could just lie. So would they then have to questions friends and family of the patient to see if they have ever expressed a dislike for a specific gender or the race of the fetus?

                Another ridiculous aspect of the bill is that it would not hold women accountable, only the doctor who performs the abortion. But that makes no sense. How is the doctor supposed to know if the parent(s) is seeking an abortion because of the race or sex of the fetus? If it is illegal, they will lie. It is absurd to think a doctor should be held responsible because their patient lied to them.

                The whole bill is just ridiculous, but apparently lawmakers in Arizona disagree because it is already a law there.

Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, Birth Control, Emergency Contraception, Government Policy

Virginia Personhood

                I was born and raised in Virginia and am generally proud of that. After all Virginia was home to four of the first five presidents; it is home to Jamestown, the first permanent settlement in the U.S. and the scenery is gorgeous. It is also “southern” and generally conservative which causes me to spend a lot of time going “wait, what?” A look at the first bill of the 2012 legislature has me seriously considering taking up my adopted state as “home.”

                Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) introduced a “personhood” bill (H.B. 1) as the first issue that will be looked at by the state government once they reconvene next year. My first thought was “Ugh really? This again?” Then “It will never pass, people won’t vote for it.” Then I read a little closer and it looks the difference between them is that this is not an amendment to the states constitution- it is just a bill for a new law, which means the residents of the state won’t be voting for it, the current lawmakers will. Republicans won control of both the state Senate and House of Delegates which means it might actually pass.

                Like the “personhood” amendment from Mississippi, this bill defines “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception. The Bill intentionally creates rights for “unborn children” and states that “unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the Commonwealth.”

                According to Del. Marshall the bill itself does not illegalize abortion; what it does do is address what he sees as a need: “In Virginia, a pregnant woman who gets in a car accident, she may not sue on behalf of wrongful death of her pre-born child and this would remedy that situation.” While it may be true that the bill doesn’t explicitly outlaw abortion; it is sufficiently vague that it could result in abortion being outlawed because the “unborn child has rights.” Much like the “personhood” amendment in Mississippi this bill can also ban the use of IUD’s, emergency contraception, and even certain types of the pill.

                The whole thing is just absurd; once again politicians are putting policing women’s bodies ahead of fixing a staggering economy. It is beyond clear where the majority of Republicans priorities lie controlling women = number one. Economy = not on the list apparently.

Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, Government Policy, pro-choice

Arizona Consent Act

For those of you who don’t remember or haven’t read our previous entry on the topic, the Arizona Consent Act is an intrusive piece of legislation passed by the Arizona government back in 2009. It requires in person counseling 24 hours before having an abortion, notarized consent by parents of patients under 18 and allows only licensed physicians to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood sought and was granted an injunction against it; however an appeals court overturned the injunction by stating that placing “some burden” on people seeking abortions is totally acceptable in spite of constitutional rights to abortion. The regulations could not go into effect until Planned Parenthood decided if they would take the matter to the Arizona Supreme Court. They decided not to pursue an appeal at the state Supreme Court Level. On Monday of this week a Maricopa County Superior Court judge entered a court order that officially ends the petition against the regulations.

 The implementation of these regulations created an immediate shortage of qualified abortion providers. Nurse Practitioners and physician’s assistants have a similar rate of success and lack of complications, but since the Arizona courts felt this was irrelevant, they are now no longer able to provide abortion care. CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona is quoted as saying “One of the impacts of the ruling was the prohibition of nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants from providing abortion care… At least at Planned Parenthood, about half of the abortion patients we were seeing were being seen by nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants… they are no longer allowed to provide that care despite having done so for literally a decade with a safety record equal to that of a physician’s.”

In my opinion the worst part of this is still the required NOTARIZED parental consent forms. Many states have parental consent requirements and while I disagree with them on principle I can see why even advocates for pro-choice equality would support them; abortion can be a surgical procedure and surgery is a scary word.  What I cannot wrap my head around is requiring the parental consent forms to be notarized. As I am still unable to find any evidence to the contrary and have yet to be corrected, I can only conclude that notaries in Arizona are not bound by any kind of confidentiality laws. Given this fact, even the most staunchly pro-choice families would have to worry about stigma in granting their daughter permission to have an abortion because they have no way to know her private medical decisions would not be leaked to their community by the notary they went to. This should not ever be a concern, no matter what medical procedure you are having done. Be it a check up, appendectomy, breast reduction or abortion it is never anyone’s business aside from the patient and their doctor. It is appalling that this regulation was allowed to stand.

Abortion, Abortion Rights, anti-abortion, pro-choice

180 Movie Distributed to High Schools

A while back 180, a documentary seeking to vilify abortion, made waves throughout the pro-life and pro-choice communities. The premise of the documentary is pretty simple- the creator of the documentary, Ray Comfort, starts by asking people how they feel about the holocaust then how they feel about abortion and then tried to convince them their support for abortion is wrong because the holocaust and abortion are the same thing. The creator and supporters are now distributing this film to high schools throughout the country.

Before I talk about the documentary I’m going to give a quick lesson in the art of persuasion. There are the three main aspects of trying to convince people of something: one is emotional appeals (pathos) one is logical appeals (logos) and one is appeals based in the credibility of the presenter (ethos). The more balanced between the ethos, pathos and logos columns a piece is the more effective it is. This film was heavy on the pathos/emotional appeals and had a bit of the ethos/credibility thrown in. It had nothing in the logos/logic column. These types are arguments, while likely to be highly effective in the moment, are unlikely to permanently change the opinions of the people who view it.

Pro-life people will love this film because it supports what they already believe; that abortion is murder. Pro-choicers are likely to react the same way I did; by finding the arguments to be overly simplistic and inaccurate representations of the realities of abortion. People in the middle, people who are uncomfortable with the idea of abortion but who don’t feel it is their place to dictate what other people do with their bodies are really the only people this documentary is likely to have any impact on and even then it is likely to be only a temporary impact. This is because the documentary lacks any real logic and fact based support for its premise. Emotional appeals are very effective in the moment; most people don’t want to think they are akin to Nazis. So of course when you show them the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and then tell them that abortion is the same thing, there is a strong probability they will skip critical thinking and agree with you. After the moment has passed and the opportunity arises for them to think about it rational they will likely go back to their original opinion. This is true for any emotional/pathos based argument.

So it is not because I disagree with the pro-life stance the movie takes that I disagree with it being distributed to high school students. Honestly if they had shown this movie at my high school I doubt anyone would have taken it seriously to begin with, so I see no reason to be alarmed that it will convince high schoolers to not be pro-choice. My issue with the film being distributed in public schools is that it goes beyond anti-abortion propaganda and straight into Christian propaganda. The last ten minutes consist of Ray Comfort asking the participants if they believe in God and Jesus and Heaven and Hell and then if they have broken any of the 10 Commandments. Then he tells them all that if Heaven and Hell exist, they will be going to hell because they have broken some of the Commandments and that they should go home and think about repenting to Jesus. If churches want to host showings for their communities then that is absolutely fantastic and they should feel free to do so; but showing it in public schools is absolutely not ok. It alienates anyone who is not Christian and even some who are Christian by implying that they will go to Hell for having “impure thoughts.”  Using the abortion debate as cover for a proselytizing mission really isn’t a new concept, but to hoist it into public schools is ludicrous.

 

Edited to Add:

                Wow, 39 comments! It’s great to see so many people engaging with our blog! We got a late start today so unfortunately there wasn’t time to go through all the comments. If you don’t see yours posted yet, it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to approve it. We may not have gotten to it yet or we might have felt it deserved a more in depth response than we had time for. We will get to them. However, if your comment seemed more about attacking than engaging or if it makes light of the experiences of others then it is possible we will opt to not approve it. We want this to be an open dialogue but not one that is vitriolic. If you still don’t see your comment posted in the next few days and you think we misinterpreted your intent, please feel free to resubmit. Thanks for reading!