The 10 Most Dangerous Places to be a Woman in America
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A 2011 law banning the “off-label” use of abortion-inducing drugs was blocked by a legal challenge, but is currently up for review by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, as the Los Angeles Times reports: “At issue ultimately is the meaning of the high court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which upheld a woman’s right to choose abortion, but said states may regulate the practice, so long as they do not put an ‘undue burden’ on the patients or their doctors.”
Reproductive rights advocates and lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights — who challenged the law in court — said the regulations would prevent women from accessing safe, nonsurgical abortion care: “The statute at issue here effectively bans all abortions using medication, rather than by surgery,” the lawyers told the high court.
Women seeking abortions in North Carolina already have to endure a 24-hour waiting period, undergo mandatory counseling and submit to a forced ultrasound in order to terminate a pregnancy, but that hasn’t stopped antiabortion lawmakers in the state from pushing to further restrict access.
In a move that is familiar to the point of being redundant, the state legislature is now using red tape and unnecessary regulations to crush abortion rights. But the packaging the omnibus abortion restrictions came bundled in was, however, a little unusual: House Republicans in July pushed through an “anti-Sharia Law” measure that, in addition transparently trying to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the state, was packed with stringent abortion regulations.
The provisions included in the last-minute bill would force abortion clinics to meet the standards of surgical centers; mandate a physician, rather than a trained technician under the remote supervision of a doctor, be present during chemical abortions; require clinics to have transfer agreements with local hospitals; restrict healt care coverage of abortion; as well as introducing a broad “conscience protection” to allow any healthcare provider to opt out of providing abortion-related services.
The timing of the bill — the day before a long holiday weekend — was scrutinized by reproductive rights advocates and House Democrats. “They’re doing it quietly on Fourth of July weekend because they’ve seen what’s going on in Texas and know that women will turn out,” Melissa Reed, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, told WRAL News.
According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, close to 90 percent of Texas women live in a county without an abortion clinic. The antiabortion omnibus measure currently being debated during a second special legislative session could shutter 37 of the state’s 42 clinics, leaving the women of the second most populous state in the country without meaningful access to basic reproductive health services and abortion care.
In addition to criminalizing abortion at 20 weeks, the proposed measure would impose expensive and unnecessary regulations on abortion providers, including hospital admitting privilege requirements, restrictions on telemedicine and chemical abortion and other regulatory derailments of clinic operations.
And while Texas’ current battle over reproductive rights has grabbed unprecedented national attention, this isn’t the state’s first rodeo. During the 2011 legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed a two-year budget cutting $73 million from family planning programs. In 2012, Gov. Rick Perry dissolved the state’s partnership with the federal Women’s Health Program and forfeited millions in Medicaid funding for low-income women’s healthcare. Republican lawmakers were unabashed about the reasoning behind such extreme measures, which was, as state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, openly acknowledged to “defund the ‘abortion industry.”