4 States Where Right-Wingers Are Promoting Shocking Measures to Keep Women Barefoot and Pregnant
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It's been an exhausting few weeks for reproductive rights supporters. Most recently, we've been treated to a new round of a battle over birth control, as the debate over whether employees at religiously affiliated institutions should be required to receive insurance that covers birth control without a co-payment -- a right employees of all other U.S. companies will have under the Obama administration's new healthcare law -- rages on in Washington.
Many of us can't believe we're having a conversation, let alone a full-blown debate, about this issue in the year 2012, but here we are, watching women get shut out of this week's hearing on the subject, listening to men wax poetic about the "good old days" when low-cost birth control meant holding an aspirin between one's knees and enduring childish rants from a cabal of overly powerful Catholic bishops who, in the astute words of Jon Stewart, have "confused the war on...religion with not always getting everything [they] want ."
But attention-grabbing as the anti-birth control crusade may be, it is not the only regressive, anti-woman, anti-science battle being waged in this country. In fact, right-wing politicians are attempting to roll back reproductive rights across the nation. One year ago, we reported on a number of state-level reproductive rights battles. Today we check in with many of those states (plus some new ones), only to find that the war on women has not let up at all and abortion bans being introduced to legislatures are getting more scary, more intrusive, more punitive and in some cases, gaining more traction.
This brutal combined assault on family planning and abortion rights, if it continues to be successful, will hit disadvantaged women the hardest, and result in an environment of compulsory pregnancy for many of the nation's women.
1. Kansas considers letting doctors lie to patients seeking abortions.
The entire year for reproductive rights in Kansas has been extremely rough. Last summer, the state came perilously close to shutting down the three remaining abortion providers in the state; a move that would have effectively banned abortion in Kansas, even though abortion is legal in the United States. The proposed law would have required abortion providers to conform to ridiculous standards for things like room temperature and the size of janitorial closets (not a joke).
Those plans may have been thwarted, but now state lawmakers are considering several new pieces of anti-abortion legislation that are even broader and more nefarious. Planned Parenthood of Kansas spokesperson Sarah Gillooly called one of the bills "the largest and most sweeping overhaul we've seen to date," which is saying something in Kansas. Worse yet, most lawmakers only learned of that bill's existence six days before the legislation went up for debate last week, giving the impression that Republicans were trying to ram the legislation through.
Supported by anti-choice groups like Kansans for Life and Republican lawmakers including Rep. Lance Kinzer, the recent legislation includes a dizzying array of abortion restrictions. Among them, via the HuffingtonPost and the KansasCity Star:
- Women would be required to undergo a sonogram and listen to the fetal heartbeat before receiving an abortion.
- Physicians would be exempted from malpractice lawsuits if they withheld information that could prevent an abortion. In other words, a physician could choose not to tell a woman something important about her own health if the doctor thought the woman might seek an abortion because of that information. If the woman then suffered health problems, she would have no legal recourse. (Though it is little consolation, her family could still sue the doctor if she died.)
- Abortion providers would be required to inform women of a link between abortion and breast cancer and reproductive health problems -- links that have been widely discredited over many years by the medical establishment.
- Providers would be required to inform women that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, another widely discredited myth anti-choicers have been propagating for years.
- Physicians would no longer be eligible for tax credits and exemptions for abortion-related insurance, drugs and expenses.
- Groups that perform abortions would be banned from providing sexual education materials for teenagers in schools.
2. Virginia's infamous "rape by the state" provision.