Which State Is Winning the Race to the Bottom to Become the Worst Place for Women?
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Every day, it becomes a little bit harder for women to get the health care they need in America, particularly if that health care has anything to do with sexual and reproductive health.
The " war on women" began almost the moment that 2011's new class of legislators took their oaths of office, and it's still going on as we speak. Anti-choice groups have successfully created blueprint legislation for waiting periods, parental consent laws, mandatory ultrasounds, and targeted regulations of clinics. These kinds of laws have been passed in statehouse after statehouse.
With such a steady attrition of rights, it's hard to keep up the momentum, anger and outrage that we felt this winter and spring. But people should still be outraged, because a number of states are avidly participating in a race to the bottom, determined to outdo each other in restricting access to abortion, chipping away at the fundamental promise of Roe, and belittling women and their health care providers in the process.
Leading the way are Ohio, Virginia, Kansas and South Dakota. Other states, like Indiana and Missouri, already have so many restrictions of various types in place that they're going to be hard to catch up with.
Here's a rundown of what's happening state by state, and which states are really making it worse for woman.
Ohio: A fetal heartbeat law that would outlaw abortion before most women know they're pregnant
Ms. Magazine's Holly L. Derr reports from Ohio on a new law that has dire implications:
Now that the Ohio Senate is back in session, the bill may be taken up at any time. The measure would outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is often as early as six weeks into the pregnancy. At that point, many women don’t even know they are pregnant. The bill passed the House in March and stands a good chance in the Republican-dominated Senate. It then needs just the signature of proudly pro-life Governor John R. Kasich.
Derr notes that this law, too extreme even for Ohio Right to Life, is designed to trigger a lawsuit and get entangled in a costly court battle--even though its proponents claim to be against frivolous government spending. She writes that the situation in Ohio is already dire: "I hate that this same state legislature has already passed House bills to ban abortion after 20 weeks (before the Supreme Court-recognized threshold of viability), to prevent private insurance companies from covering abortion and to prevent public hospitals from performing the procedure altogether."
Indeed, it's the combination of restrictions like these that makes it more and more difficult for women to find help when they need it.
Kansas and Virginia: Back-door regulations to shut down clinics
There's another kind of threat at work in Kansas and Virginia. TRAP, or "targeted regulation of abortion provider" laws, are burdensome restrictions that are designed to put abortion clinics out of business. And in Virginia, passing a new set of these laws has been deemed an "emergency."
The new rules attracted the attention of the editorial board of the Washington Post, which called them "onerous and unnecessary":
The rules will require existing clinics to meet construction and design standards mainly intended for new hospitals — not existing outpatient facilities such as abortion clinics. The rules mandate the minimum width of hallways; ceiling height; the size of operating rooms; numbers of parking spots; and other requirements that will be physically impossible, or prohibitively expensive, for many clinics to satisfy.