Friday, April 29, 2005

Because the abortion debate never ends

Charlie at Shades of Grey has an intelligent post spawned from what I wrote yesterday. In that post, he makes the assertion that Florida is the first state to try and restrict Roe vs. Wade which moves towards the greater goal of overturning it altogether.

Nope, that award goes to Mississippi. They have passed 14 anti-choice laws since 1980 with 6 of them being passed just last year. They have only 1 clinic left that is supposed to serve the entire state but in truth only women from Jackson and Delta make the trek, the rest take their needs out of state.

In the article it gives a few statistics about the decline of abortions in the state of MS. Interesting given that the stats also dropped as the clinics closed. Both sides, as reported in the link, admit that these numbers could be attributed to women going out of state to have their abortions. But it's the anti-choice zealots who go further: they are loud and very much in the face of women who try to go in the lone clinic. According to Pat Cartrette, "[her] and other abortion opponents say their vocal and visual presence has persuaded hundreds of women considering abortion to change their minds." If you don't believe me, read the article.

MISSISSIPPI ABORTION LAWS - Mississippi has passed 14 abortion laws since the mid-1980s. The main ones:

Parental consent: Both parents must agree to a minor seeking abortion, though judges can make exceptions. Passed in 1986, not in effect because of court challenges until 1993.

Informed consent: 24-hour waiting period and mandatory counseling that includes mentioning that abortion is linked to breast cancer, a claim denied by the federal government. 1991.

School nurses: They can't refer students for abortion counseling or to clinics. 2001.

Public funding: Facilities receiving public money can't perform abortions. 2002.

License plates: "Choose Life" tags, which have raised nearly $500,000. 2002.

Abortion complications: Doctors must report them to the state. 2004.

Fetal "homicide:" Classifies the termination of a fetus at all stages as murder, except as allowed under Roe v. Wade. 2004.

First trimester: Limits clinics to performing abortions through the first trimester, or 13 weeks. 2004, but is in court.

Let's not stop there you say? Then how about Colorado's Focus on the Family obtaining very expensive ultra-sound equipment in order to better persuade women to say 'no' to abortion. I can't help but thinking of ways this money could have been better spent on providing health care services for women and/or free birth control so that abortions wouldn't be needed at all. There is a pretty good quote from that article, though:

"Women are intelligent," Saporta said. "They know they're pregnant, and the image they see - especially that early in the pregnancy - doesn't look like that ultrasound image you're seeing on the cover of Time magazine." She was referring to the issue with a grainy black and white image of a fetus deep into the pregnancy.

I love anyone that tells me I'm intelligent enough to decide for myself what my eyes do and do not see or what my body does and does not feel. It's that whole bodily autonomy thing that women are constantly fighting for.

But then there is the new Family Restriction Act that was passed by the Federal House of Representatives which prohibits non-parental figures from taking a minor across state lines to have an abortion. I guess those women in MS are shit out of luck eh? I think parental notification laws are a bad idea and there are plenty of court documented cases to prove why, so obviously this isn't the next logical step either.

Dr.B. mentioned Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in her post on the 13-year old girl in Florida yesterday and yep, I've been thinking of it for a while now. It's way too scary when you wake up one day and realize that your federal government (I know, state can be counted as being way ahead of the federal game) wants you to becomes a baby-making machine only.

Or a punching bag/moving target as the legislators in South Carolina deem to be an appropriate title for us as well.

(Now if only I could put this much time and effort into the 3 remaining papers I must write I'd have them all done already!)