The 10 Most Dangerous Places to be a Woman in America
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Arkansas’ 12-week abortion ban (passed in February, less than a week after the state approved a separate measure to ban abortion at 20 weeks) was slated to take effect in August, but is currently being blocked by a federal court injunction. Like North Dakota’s six-week ban, Arkansas’ law would make abortion illegal in almost all circumstances after a fetal heartbeat is detectable (with an abdominal, rather than transvaginal) ultrasound.
Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, wary of inevitable legal challenges, vetoed the measure soon after it reached his desk, noting in a statement that ”it would impose a ban on a woman’s right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability” and violate “the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.” Beebe went on to argue that defending the extreme ban in court would prove “very costly to the taxpayers of our state,” given that “lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws also result in the losing party — in this case, the state — being ordered to pay the costs and attorneys’ fees incurred by the litigants who successfully challenge the law. Those costs and fees can be significant.”
Interestingly, the ban was also denounced by antiabortion activists, who said it was symbolic grandstanding that was bound to be overturned in court: “As much as we would like to protect the unborn at that point, it is futile and it won’t save any babies,” National Right to Life General Counsel James Bopp Jr. told the New York Times.
The Arkansas state legislature went on to override Beebe’s veto, with the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jason Rapert telling his critics: “We’re going to stand up for this law, regardless of who opposes it.”
The mandatory waiting period for an abortion in South Dakota — already the longest in the country — was deemed in need of extending by antiabortion lawmakers in February. The new law forces women to wait 72 hours — excluding weekends and holidays — before they can legally obtain an abortion.
A provision requiring that women seek counseling from faith-based, antiabortion “crisis pregnant centers” is currently being blocked in court. (For those who need reminding about the kind of dangerous, pseudoscientific and outright false information these centers provide, please see here.)
Supporters of the bill claim it gives women time to consider their decision to terminate a pregnancy (despite research indicating that mandatory waiting periods and counseling do not affect a women’s choices, with 87 percent of women seeking abortions reporting feeling “highly confident” in their decision), but opponents argue that it is intended to place unnecessary barriers between women and a safe medical procedure, as Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood President of South Dakota, recently noted: ”This bill has absolutely nothing to do with helping women. Instead, this bill is about further delaying women from having an abortion and protecting the convenience and schedules of crisis pregnancy centers – a stunningly cynical use of the Legislature and of taxpayer dollars.”
In the final weeks of 2012, state lawmakers and the state board of health voted to use the size of parking lots, the width of doorways and the length of corridors to begin shuttering abortion clinics in the state. After a lengthy and heated debate, state lawmakers approved a measure to regulate abortion clinics in the same manner as surgical centers.
But in a surprise move, the state health board voted to grandfather existing clinics from the new building and regulation codes. Unfortunately, the board reversed its decision after threats from attorney general (and gubernatorial hopeful) Ken Cuccinelli, leaving clinics vulnerable to the new standards.