Salon Examines Everyday Impact of Abortion Laws on Doctors, Patients

October 23, 2012 — Although political battles over abortion frequently make headlines, the details of how abortion restrictions affect the lives of women and medical personnel day to day "tends to stay hidden inside clinic walls," Salon reports.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, lawmakers last year proposed more than 1,100 measures targeting reproductive health, with 135 becoming laws in 36 states. So far this year, legislatures in 10 states have introduced new measures related to pre-abortion counseling and waiting periods, while 18 states have proposed bills requiring mandatory ultrasounds.

A long-term analysis published by Guttmacher in 2009 showed that restrictions on abortion access have not significantly affected abortion rates. However, the requirements can take a social and economic toll on women who seek abortion services, according to Salon.

For example, Carolyn Jones, an Austin-based writer who sought an abortion earlier this year after learning her fetus had a neurological abnormality, said the mandatory ultrasound process in Texas "felt like torture" because she was "forced to see the image of [her] sick child."

According to Salon, the wave of new regulations requiring doctors to perform certain procedures and disseminate state-mandated information "intimately affects the way doctors see patients and themselves."

Paula Gianino, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said the laws "are forcing our staff and our physicians to be agents of the state, by handing to women state-mandated materials and, in some states, attempting to script the speech of physicians" (Chen, Salon, 10/21).