According to the Guttmacher Institute, in the first six months of 2013, various states enacted 106 restrictive provisions related to women’s reproductive health and rights. Virtually all were sponsored by Republican controlled state legislatures and approved by Republican governors.
This is nothing more than an insidious GOP effort to whittle away at Roe v. Wade one state at a time. In the guise of “states’ rights,” Texas and the other states that have enacted similar restrictions are doing their utmost to defeat Roe v. Wade without overturning it. They are passing laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, for women in those states to get abortions. It’s essentially a Republican effort to end abortion rights in this country by inflicting death by a thousand cuts.
Just last week, for example, Texas became the 12th state since 2010, and the 13th overall, to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Roe v. Wade stated that a woman has a right to have an abortion until viability, which the ruling defined as when the fetus is “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.” Viability, the Court said, “…is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”
Much ado about nothing?
And yet, even though I am a staunch believer in a woman’s right to choose, I can’t help but feel that the brouhaha over the provision in the new Texas law that prohibits abortions after the 20th week is much ado about nothing.
Most women know that they’re pregnant sometime around the fourth to sixth week following conception. If my arithmetic is accurate, in order to be in compliance with the law, these pregnant women have between 14 and 16 weeks after learning that they’re pregnant to decide whether to keep or abort the fetus.
Besides, Planned Parenthood has indicated that nearly 99 percent of all abortions occur before 21 weeks. Abortions later than that are typically performed because of a serious medical condition that would constitute either a severe fetal abnormality or a real threat to the physical health of the mother. Thus, my lack of outrage at this particular provision of the Texas law.
Of course, I am male. As such, I can’t truly know all of the factors that go into making such an extremely difficult and highly emotional decision. But I would think that, unless there are mitigating circumstances (e.g., health of the fetus or the mother), 14 to 16 weeks after finding out about the pregnancy should be sufficient time for a woman to decide whether or not a she wants an abortion.
I just have a really hard time acknowledging that Texas governor Rick Perry and I seem to have similar positions on this matter. He said “20 weeks is a reasonable period of time for a woman to decide on ending her pregnancy.”
Holy shit! Rick Perry and I actually agree on something. To quote Governor Perry: “Oops.”
But what seriously does bother me about the Texas law, and similar laws in other red states, are the further restrictions in the law, like those that place more strict requirements on facilities that can perform the procedures and limits around a woman’s ability to induce an abortion by taking a pill.
The Texas bill mandates that abortion clinics become ambulatory surgical centers, tightens usage guidelines for the drug Mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486 and often referred to as the “abortion pill”), and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they’re providing such services. Critics say these provisions would shut down most abortion clinics in the state.
Texas is not alone in jumping on the anti-abortion bandwagon. Republicans in a number of states are falling all over themselves to enact similar restrictive anti-abortion laws. These red states lawmakers are passing legislation designed to discourage medical professionals from providing abortions and to make it impossible for many clinics to remain open.
Arizona Republicans went so far as to redefine when a pregnancy begins. In that state, GOP lawmakers apparently believe that pregnancies begin up to two weeks before conception. Seriously, you can’t make shit like this up.
Sooner or later issue of abortion rights will, once again, be in the hands of the United States Supreme Court. Given the 5-4 conservative make-up of the SCOTUS, it will be interesting to see how the Roberts Court will respond. I’m thinking that women in this country are going to find themselves transported back to a simpler time. You know, back to the Fifties and earlier, when abortions were performed by sleazy hacks with coat hangers in back alleys.
That, apparently, is the Republican idea of progress. Forward into the past.