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Legislative Attack On Women's Reproductive Rights Must Stop

Cara Palmer |
March 21, 2012 | 8:38 p.m. PDT

Senior Editor

(ProgressOhio, Creative Commons)
(ProgressOhio, Creative Commons)
And…it just keeps coming.

State governments continue to attack the right of women to make their own reproductive choices. The latest insult award going to Idaho’s Chuck Winder, the sponsor of Idaho’s new mandatory ultrasound bill.

Winder claimed that women, first of all, might not know how to determine if they’ve been raped, and, second of all, that women would use the excuse of rape to get an abortion, which is why the Idaho bill does not make exceptions for rape victims. The bill also does not make exceptions for incest victims or women in medical emergencies. Winder stated:

"I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on.”

According to the Huffington Post,

“If Winder's mandatory ultrasound bill becomes law, a victim of rape or incest or a woman with a medical emergency who is seeking an abortion must obtain an ultrasound first and the state will provide a list of providers. Nearly every provider of free ultrasounds in Idaho is a ‘crisis pregnancy center,’ which aims to dissuade women from having an abortion. The woman would also have to obtain from a doctor a second ultrasound, which would involve an invasive transvaginal procedure if she is in her first trimester of pregnancy. Even if she averts her eyes from the ultrasound image and refuses to listen to the fetal heartbeat, she would have to hear the doctor describe the fetus in detail.”

That list is definitely cringe-worthy. Just like this bill. But it passed in the state senate Monday with a vote of 23 to 12 – seven Democrats and five Republicans voted against it. The state house is expected to pass it as well.

The funny thing is, Winder’s and many other legislators’ unfortunate attempts to roll back women’s rights with appalling, intrusive bills aimed to prevent women from seeking or obtaining abortions, seem to be backfiring. If I were some of these bills’ sponsors, I’d be worried about reelection. Johnny Carcin, the Field Organizer for the Boisie Planned Parenthood, said:

“We have had people that have been supportive in the past and have called us expressing their concerns and asking how they can get involved [and] We have actually gotten quite a few calls from people who are typically not very supportive of us but feel like this bill goes too far to intruding into personal medical decisions.”

There comes a point, a point legislators sponsoring, promoting, or voting for bills antagonistic toward women’s rights seem to be reaching, at which they will no longer be able to get away with their tactics. The people who were against their actions from the start became more vocal, the people who may have been in favor of their actions at the beginning are now opposed, and the people who were originally apathetic became more outspoken.

The outright attack on women’s rights demonstrated by the widespread and voluminous legislation throughout the country attempting to repeal abortion rights, to limit women’s access to birth control, and to insert governmental control into women’s bodies, a violation in and of itself, will not succeed. The people will not stand for it.

Mandating pre-abortion ultrasounds, considering forcing women to watch an abortion happen before they get one, enacting waiting periods before women can obtain an abortion, prohibiting abortion even in the case of rape, incest, or a state of medical emergency, shutting down health centers that provide abortions using laws featuring technicalities with regard to building codes, forcing women to carry their fetuses to term even if they are known to be stillborn, attempting to make public the names of abortion providers and the demographics of their patients, requiring doctors to relay false medical information to women seeking abortions, preventing women from easily accessing birth control, threatening to defund Planned Parenthood; the list goes on and on.

And some Republicans continue to insist that the "war on women" is a fantasy, a fabrication?

It’s too much. The degree to which many state governments have decided to violate women’s rights has reached an intolerable level. This cannot go on. The government must serve the people, not take away the rights of the people; yet, that’s exactly what these bills serve to do – take away the rights of women to make their own reproductive choices and control what happens to their own bodies.

The impact on the ability of women to protect their own health, from being able to access basic health services, to protecting their lives in the cases of unsafe pregnancies, is enormous, and negative. As Hillary Clinton said, “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health, and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions.”

There is no excuse for an intrusive government whose actions are adversely affecting the health and lives and rights of over one half of the entire population.

It has to stop. Now.


Reach Senior Opinion Editor Cara Palmer here or follow her on Twitter.



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