The Right Wing Has Made It Next to Impossible for Many Women to Get Abortions
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If she is 22 weeks into her pregnancy, she will also be told that the fetus “may” feel pain, and she will have to decide whether she would like anesthesia for the fetus. It doesn’t matter that it's not true. What matters is that she believes she is causing pain to her unborn child.
She will have to decide whether to have an ultrasound so she can see a picture of her fetus, and whether to listen to its heartbeat. It doesn’t matter that there probably is no heartbeat yet. What matters is that she thinks about her fetus -- her baby -- and what it looks and sounds like, and the pain she will inflict on it.
And then she will have to wait at least 24 hours. A whole day. She has to go think about her decision. The government has a vested interest in making sure she really thinks about what she’s doing, about the ultrasound and the heartbeat and the risks and the pain. Sure, it’s legal for her to have an abortion, but first, she has to feel bad about it. Shamed.
And where does she go for 24 hours? Does this teenage girl have the means to stay in a hotel? Does she go all the way back home and hope to return the next day? Maybe she just goes home and never comes back.
Those are the obstacles women face in Missouri. And Oklahoma. And Louisiana. And Nebraska.
In Nebraska, the legislature passed, and the governor signed, a "patient screening" bill. The bill requires doctors to read every single peer-reviewed study on the risks of abortion and to advise their patients of all of the reported risks -- even the debunked ones.
Planned Parenthood immediately sued and obtained an injunction to prevent the law from going into effect. The state's attorney general concluded that it would be too costly for the state to fight the injunction. So women and their doctors are safe from that law. For now. But many legislatures find their laws overturned; it doesn't stop them from re-introducing the laws, again and again and again.
And the women of Nebraska are still subject to many of the same restrictions as the women of Missouri -- parental notification, ultrasounds, waiting periods, false information. And because 97 percent of Nebraska's counties have no abortion providers, traveling to an abortion provider in another part of the state imposes a significant burden.
The State of Oklahoma made it legal for doctors to withhold information from their patients if they think that information may influence a woman's decision to have an abortion. So if her ultrasound shows the fetus has birth defects, the doctor may choose not to disclose that information to the patient if she might be inclined to have an abortion. And she has no right to sue the doctor for failing to provide her with that information. This, in the same state that, at the same time, passed a law requiring women to have a vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion -- all the in the name of "informed consent."
How hard should it be? How many more lies should women be told? How much longer should they have to wait? How much further should they have to travel? How much more should they have to pay? How much harder does it need to be?
Already, we have fewer and fewer doctors who even know how to perform abortions. Only 13 percent of counties even have one abortion provider. The cost of hundreds of dollars is burdensome to low-income women; for minors, who already face the greatest obstacles, it can be prohibitive.