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Blogs Comment on Kansas, Ohio, South Dakota Antiabortion Laws

Blogs Comment on Kansas, Ohio, South Dakota Antiabortion Laws

July 5, 2011 — The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries.

~ "Ohio Republicans Argue for 'Heartbeat' Abortion Bill: Abortion Makes Teens Smoke Pot," Igor Volsky, ThinkProgress: Last Tuesday, "the Ohio Assembly passed the 'heartbeat abortion bill,' a measure that would prohibit doctors from performing abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, thus outlawing the procedure as early as 'six to seven weeks into pregnancy,'" Volsky writes. "Republicans admitted that the measure would likely fall to a constitutional challenge but offered a myriad of wacky reasons for rolling back a woman's right to choose," he writes. The arguments included comparisons to Nazi Germany and that a teen who has an abortion is "nine times more likely to report subsequent marijuana use." Volsky concludes, "Unfortunately, the heartbeat bill -- which is one of the most radical antiabortion bills in the country -- was just one of three antiabortion measures to pass the House. Lawmakers also approved legislation outlawing abortion after 20 weeks and prohibited insurers from offering abortion coverage in the health care exchanges established under" the federal health reform law (Volsky, ThinkProgress, 6/29).

~ "Abortion Providers Sue Over Kansas Licensing Law: 'This is Like Living in a Communist Country," Igor Volsky, ThinkProgress: Volsky discusses lawsuits challenging antiabortion-rights laws in Kansas. The Center for Reproductive Rights last Tuesday filed suit in federal district court on behalf of two of the state's three abortion providers over a law that requires clinics to undergo inspections and obtain licenses, Volsky explains. "[T]hese suits come on the heels of a separate legal action filed [last] Monday that challenges a separate 'provision in the new state budget blocking Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri from tapping into federal Title X funds to operate non-abortion clinics in Hays and Wichita,'" Volsky writes. Volsky concludes that "the lawsuits will only increase costs to taxpayers, who are already paying an 'absurd' amount of money -- $67,000 a year for six inspections at three clinics -- to challenge Roe v. Wade and chase abortion providers out of the state" (Volsky, ThinkProgress, 6/29).

~ "Judge Issues Injunction on South Dakota's New 72-Hour Wait and Mandatory Counseling Law," Robin Marty, Care2: A "draconian abortion law" in South Dakota that would require women "to visit a doctor to ensure she is not being coerced, then wait 72 hours as well [as] visit a crisis pregnancy center again to ensure she is not being coerced, and only then finally go in to have an abortion," did not go into effect on July 1, after a federal judge blocked implementation of the law, Marty writes. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota said the law "represents a blatant intrusion by politicians into difficult decisions women and families sometimes need to make. We trust women and families in South Dakota to know and do what is best for them, without being coerced by the government." Marty writes that the 72-hour waiting period "was likely to add not just a great increase in the time it would take to access the procedure and the cost of obtaining an abortion, but a great deal of mental anguish due to the 'mandatory counseling' that would be provided by antiabortion advocates" (Marty, Care2, 6/30).

~ "What Could Happen in South Dakota," Vanessa Wellbery/Alisha Sedor, NARAL Pro-Choice America's "Blog for Choice": Wellbery -- a policy representative at NARAL -- and Sedor -- executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota -- outline the potential implications of a South Dakota antiabortion-rights law through a fictional story that "illustrates what could happen if this first-of-its-kind law goes into effect in a state where women already face significant barriers to abortion access." The law requires women to receive counseling at a crisis pregnancy center and wait 72 hours before obtaining an abortion. In the story, a married woman with two children becomes pregnant after her contraceptive method fails. Facing health problems and financial difficulties, she decides with her husband to seek an abortion but runs up against several obstacles related to the law. The state's sole abortion clinic only offers the procedure once per week, forcing the woman to make two separate trips of hundreds of miles, as well as the visit to the CPC. "Sadly many of these CPCs do nothing to help women, often even intentionally misinforming and misleading women seeking pregnancy-related information, their sole intention to dissuade them from exercising their right to choose," Wellbery and Sedor write. To receive abortion care, the woman and her family "will have used limited resources to pay for her care out of pocket, as well as gas for more than 20 hours of driving, two nights in a motel and lost wages, ... but worse, she will have paid the emotional cost of being subjected to harassment and propaganda," they add (Wellbery/Sedor, "Blog for Choice," NARAL Pro-Choice America, 6/29).

~ "Abortion is Slowly Becoming Legal in Name Only," Sally Steenland, Huffington Post blogs: "States across the country are denying women what they need to protect their health and plan their families. And they're often doing so in the name of religion and God," Steenland, senior adviser for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, writes. Steenland notes that more than 900 antiabortion-rights laws have been introduced since the midterm elections last November and that more than 60 have passed, a fact she says "should concern any American who cares about women's reproductive health." She cites a Public Religion Research Institute poll that shows that a solid majority of Americans support access to contraception, while six in 10 believe abortion should be legal and available. "We must call out extremists who are using religion for their own narrow ideological ends," Steenland writes, adding, "The truth is that most Americans do not live on the extremes of the abortion debate but in the complicated middle, where abortion is more than a slogan or a bumper sticker." She concludes, "It is neither compassionate nor morally justified for politicians to intrude into the most intimate matters of conscience and heart. And it is deeply wrong to do so in the name of religion" (Steenland, Huffington Post blogs, 7/1).