The 10 Most Dangerous Places to be a Woman in America
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Lately, the preferred strategy for reproductive rights opponents in the United States seems to be: if you can’t beat Roe v. Wade, then simply regulate around it.
Whether it’s the newly-imposed 72-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions in South Dakota, or Virginia’s Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) law that shuttered a clinic after 40 years in operation because the ventilation and temperature control systems required by the new regulations were simply too expensive — when it comes to undermining women’s autonomy and banning abortion in 2013, it’s all about petty bureaucracy.
The current battle playing out in Texas is only one example among dozens of states trying to bury abortion rights in red tape.
A roundup of some of the most dangerous places to be a woman in the United States right now:
The spring of 2013 was a busy time for lawmakers in Bismarck. The GOP-controlled legislature passed four draconian measures with strong majorities, giving North Dakota the dubious distinction of having the most restrictive abortion laws in a country rich with restrictive abortion laws.
The most shocking — though probably the least likely to survive a legal challenge — is the ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is “detectable,” which can be identified by a transvaginal ultrasound as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. With only a narrowly defined exception for the life of the mother, it is the most extreme pre-viability ban in the country. After signing the measure, Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple acknowledged that it had very little chance of standing: “Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”
But the greatest threat to abortion access in the state, reproductive rights advocates say, is not the six-week ban — it’s a TRAP law passed during the same session. Much like the the omnibus bill currently being debated in Texas, North Dakota’s law requires that clinics obtain hospital admitting privileges, a requirement that could shutter the state’s last remaining abortion provider, the Red River Women’s Clinic. As clinic director Tammi Kromenaker recently told RH Reality Check, hospitals mandate clinics transfer 10 patients a year in order to maintain these agreements, a requirement the clinic could never meet: “I’ve had one time that I’ve had to admit a patient in the last ten years,” she explained. “The other [antiabortion] bills aren’t really a threat right now, but this one could close us,” she added.
Reproductive rights groups have filed suits challenging both laws, which are slated to go into effect in August.
In April, Kansas lawmakers approved their own antiabortion omnibus bill. The measure contains more than a dozen provisions to deny services to women seeking abortions, two of which are currently being held up in court.
The first is a troubling provision to redefine what constitutes a medical emergency so that pregnant women experiencing life-threatening complications — including hemorrhaging, infection and ruptured ectopic pregnancies – would be forced to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining an emergency abortion. After signing the legislation that would imperil the lives of pregnant women in medical emergencies, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback remarked: ”All human life is sacred. It’s beautiful. With this, we continue to build this culture of life in our state.”
A second provision of the law mandates that doctors inform women seeking abortions that fetuses can experience pain after 20 weeks, a scientifically-disputed claim, and that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Under the same law, doctors are also required to tell women that abortion puts them at greater risk for breast cancer, despite the fact that this is a medically unsubstantiated claim that has been refuted by medical experts, including the National Cancer Institute.