Late last night, at around 11:30PM CDT, The Missouri Senate successfully overridden the veto of HB1307 by a 23-7 vote. Just a couple of hours earlier, the House successfully overridden the veto by a 117-44 margin. The bill increases the abortion waiting time from 24 to 72 hours, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or other circumstances that threaten the life of the woman.Missouri lawmakers have overridden a veto to enact one of the nation’s longest abortion waiting periods.STLToday.com:
Legislators passed a measure Wednesday that will require women to wait 72 hours after consulting a physician before having an abortion. That’s the second most-stringent standard behind South Dakota, where a 72-hour wait can sometimes extend longer because weekends and holidays are not counted.
Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour wait, but it has exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.Missouri’s new waiting period law will take effect 30 days after the veto-override vote.KWMU (St. Louis Public Radio):
Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only licensed abortion clinic in St. Louis, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour waiting period court. But the organization has said its patients travel an average of nearly 100 miles for an abortion, and an extra delay could force them to either make two trips or spend additional money on hotels.
Women also could travel just across the state line in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas to abortion clinics in Illinois and Kansas that don’t require as long of a wait.
Missouri’s current waiting-period also lacks an exception for rape or incest. It requires physicians to provide women information about medical risks and alternatives to abortion and offer them an opportunity for an ultrasound of the fetus.
Missouri has a history of enacting abortion restrictions. Republican and Democratic lawmakers twice previously joined together to override vetoes of abortion bills — enacting what proponents referred to as a partial-birth abortion ban in 1999 and instituting a 24-hour abortion waiting period in 2003.
Three Missouri clinics have quit offering abortions in the past decade, and the number performed in Missouri has declined by one-third to a little over 5,400 last year.The Missouri General Assembly has made the state the third in the country to require a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortions, after the state Senate killed off a filibuster.Tweets that sum up the disgraceful veto override vote on HB1307:
The Senate voted 23-7 – along party lines — to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill, but only after deploying a procedural action that it hadn’t used in seven years to end a Democratic filibuster that had gone on for about two hours.
The last time the procedure – called “moving the previous question’’ – was used was in 2007, when the Senate also was temporarily paralyzed by an abortion bill. Dubbed a “PQ” for short, the procedure allows a simply majority of senators to end a filibuster.
The Senate action came several hours after the House had voted 117-44 in favor of the override. The House supporters had included almost all Republicans and nine Democrats.
Both votes reflected the intense passions on both sides of the abortion debate, underscored earlier Wednesday by the two morning rallies that had attracted hundreds of people to the state Capitol.
Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor who sprung to fame when she held back sweeping abortion restrictions, reveals in a new memoir that she terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons.
Davis writes in a new campaign memoir that in the 1990s she had two abortions, including one where the foetus had developed a severe brain abnormality.
Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an examination revealed that the brain of the foetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.
Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hour filibuster in the state legislature – she talked non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation bringing in tough new Texas abortion laws.
Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.
She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally are considered not viable, meaning the foetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas it’s “technically considered an abortion and doctors have to report it as such”.
Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.
“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”
Davis is running against Republican attorney general Greg Abbott, who is a heavy favourite to replace the incumbent Republican governor, Rick Perry, in 2015.
Davis’s filibuster in June 2013 set off a chaotic scene in the Texas Capitol that extended past midnight. Thousands of people packed watched it live online, with President Barack Obama at one point tweeting: “Something special is happening in Austin tonight.”
The bill required doctors who perform abortion to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and mandated that clinics upgrade facilities to hospital-level operating standards. A federal judge in Austin last month blocked a portion of the law that would have left Texas with only seven abortion facilities statewide.
An undercover video released this week by Progress Texas exposes the primary methods that right-wing activists use to intimidate women from ending a pregnancy and make it too difficult for doctors to work at abortion clinics — like tracking patients’ cars, figuring out where new clinics will be opened, and ensuring that there are protesters outside of clinics during “all hours that abortions are being performed.” The audio was recorded at “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed,” a training hosted by anti-abortion groups in the state at the beginning of August.
“What’s most telling, I think, is that the training this audio came out of was called something like ‘Keeping Abortion Clinics Closed,’ ” Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It wasn’t called, you know, ‘Bringing Safe Options To Women.’ It wasn’t called ‘Helping Women Stay Healthy And Safe.’ It was about closing abortion clinics, and they said it! They put it right out there.”
The speakers on the track are leaders in Texas’ anti-choice community. They’re instructing attendees on four major tactics to accomplish their goal of closing reproductive health facilities: lining the sidewalks outside clinics to dissuade patients from entering; tracking patients’ physical descriptions and license plates; monitoring clinic staff and potential abortion providers; and examining tax records to identify the locations of new abortion doctors.
“It’s totally legal — you track license plates, the license plates that are coming into any abortion facilities,” Karen Garnett, the executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas (CPLC), explained during the training. “We have a very sophisticated kind of little spreadsheet where everybody keeps track… You have license plates, car make, model, description of the person. And then as far as the staff members, the abortionists, you can identify if you got a new abortionist.”
The speakers in the video also confirm their goals have been advanced by an onerous new law in Texas, HB 2, that’s shuttered half of the state’s clinics over the past year. In addition to the broad swaths of the state that no longer have a single abortion facility, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to get to the nearest clinic, there’s a general atmosphere of uncertainty about where to end a pregnancy now that the law is in effect. Abortion opponents are happy to keep it that way.
“The poorer ones that are going there for abortions, they heard that it was going to close, so they quit going there,” Eileen Romano, a staffer at 40 Days For Life, told trainees. “They started going to health clinics because they thought it was closed and they didn’t have the transportation to get there. God is good.”
Progress Texas and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas are both decrying the “outrageous” and “disturbing” tactics outlined in the video, saying that Americans need to realize the true nature of the activism to end abortion.
“There’s been a misconception that these are just sweet little grannies, praying outside the clinic and just wanting to talk to women about their options,” Busby said. “This video really illustrates and drive home the point that this isn’t just about sitting outside a clinic and praying the rosary. This is about tracking, and stalking, and doing whatever you can to turn people away from a clinic — to intimidate them, to be a constant presence, and to keep women from accessing safe and legal abortion care.”
Progress Texas executive director Ed Espinoza added that the speakers in the video adamantly supported the GOP lawmakers who spearheaded HB 2 last year, and now there’s a “legitimate question” about whether those politicians agree with the extreme tactics being described.
The anti-abortion harassment in the state has only intensified as abortion clinics have been forced out of business, leaving fewer targets for anti-choice activists to go after. Another provision of the new state law, currently the subject of an ongoing court challenge, will impose even more restrictions on clinics if it’s allowed to take effect this fall. Experts in the state predict that the number of clinics will dwindle to just six unless that portion of HB 2 is successfully blocked. With just six clinics, Busby said she “can’t even imagine” how much the anti-abortion harassment in the state will increase.
This issue isn’t specific to Texas. Across the country, patients and staff at abortion clinics face significant harassment and intimidation that sometimes turns violent. Clinics are plagued by bombings, arson, vandalism, burglaries, shootings — and according to the National Abortion Federation, which tracks crimes against abortion providers, there have been 17 attempted murders of doctors since 1991. Imposing fixed buffer zones around abortion clinics is one proactive policy that’s helped keep persistent anti-choice protesters at bay; however, the Supreme Court recently ruled it goes too far to restrict protesters’ free speech rights.
Mississippi’s Governor Has Some Bad Ideas | Mississippi may be the worst state in the nation for women. And the governor’s newest ideas won’t help.
By several objective measures, Mississippi is one of our worst states. It has the nation’s highest poverty rate, its second-highest teen pregnancy rate, and its highest teen birth rate. An Education Week report ranks its schools 48 out of 50. Only Louisiana locks up a higher percentage of its people. Its infant mortality rate—9.67 deaths per 1,000 live births, the highest in the nation—is close to Botswana’s. Its life expectancy is the lowest in America and lower than those of Guatemala or Pakistan. Few states invest less in public education or public health. If it were an independent country, we’d consider it part of the Third World.
Not coincidentally, Mississippi is also one of our most conservative states, though in a recent Gallup poll, it slipped from first place to fourth. As iVillage reported last year in a piece on the country’s worst states for women—Mississippi came in first, or rather last—it’s one of only four states that has never sent a woman to Congress.
So we really shouldn’t be shocked that Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, thinks America’s educational woes can be laid at the feet of working mothers. Speaking on a panel this week about how the country became so “mediocre” in education, he replied, “Both parents started working, and the mom is in the workplace.” His comments sparked national outrage and indignation, but they shouldn’t have surprised us. Of course arch-conservatives think social breakdown is caused by the abandonment of traditional gender roles. Of course they fail to recognize that excessive wingnuttery is decimating their societies. That’s why their answers to social breakdown are frequently so ridiculous.
Consider Mississippi’s brilliant new approach to fighting teen pregnancy. On Monday, NPR reported on a new Mississippi law mandating the collection of cord blood from babies born to girls under 16. The idea, apparently, is that DNA could identify fathers who have passed through the criminal justice system and who might be statutory rapists, hence discouraging older men from impregnating younger girls. “Too many of these young teens are becoming pregnant against their will,” Bryant said.
Given that Bryant was a co-chair of the failed campaign for a personhood law in Mississippi—which might have outlawed the birth control pill, the IUD, and the morning-after pill, as well as all abortion—it’s nice to know that he’s suddenly concerned about forced pregnancy. But this law, a gross invasion of girls’ privacy, will do nothing for the state’s teen pregnancy problem. For one thing, as NPR reports, “[r]oughly 65 percent of teenage pregnancies in the state occur between teens who are one or two years apart in age.” Besides, the law doesn’t lay out who will pay for all this DNA testing, or who will be in charge of prosecuting fathers if they find them. “[P]rosecutors would have to determine in which county conception had occurred before charges could be filed,” says NPR.
Then there’s the very real danger that this law will be used against the girls themselves. Right now, says Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, two Mississippi women who have suffered stillbirths are being prosecuted under the state’s murder statutes because there were drugs in their systems when they lost their pregnancies. If every single teen mother has her cord blood on file, it would be easy for prosecutors to test it if their babies suffer expected medical problems. “If they’re collecting cord blood, it could be used just as easily against pregnant women,” says Paltrow. “She’s at much at risk of prosecution as the person who impregnated her.”
There are, of course, more sensible ways to address teen pregnancy, which has already fallen dramatically all over the country since the 1990s, even in Mississippi. Step one: increase access to birth control. “Recent research concluded that almost all of the decline in the pregnancy rate between 1995 and 2002 among 18–19-year-olds was attributable to increased contraceptive use,” a 2012 Guttmacher Institute report concluded. “Among women aged 15–17, about one-quarter of the decline during the same period was attributable to reduced sexual activity and three-quarters to increased contraceptive use.”
Naturally, Mississippi is doing nothing to promote increased contraceptive use. “When the governor of Mississippi is saying these teen births are a tragedy, he’s not doing anything to prevent the births,” says June Carbone, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and co-author, with Naomi Cahn, of the forthcoming book Family Classes: What is Really Happening to the American Family. “He wants to punish the sex. That’s the whole campaign—no sex education, make abortion difficult, and say you have no business having sex.”
Not that more access to sex education and contraception would be enough to stem Mississippi’s dysfunction. “A promising future is the best contraceptive,” says Carbone. “If women see they have a promising future, they are less likely to get pregnant, less likely to have sex at 14 or 15.” That means investing in education overall, as well as in decent jobs that pay a living wage. You’re not going to see much of that with a governor like Phil Bryant, who will never grasp that more conservatism is the problem, not the solution.
Of COURSE the law will be used against the girls themselves.
CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she supports a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, but feels her predecessors’ landmark Roe v. Wade ruling 40 years ago was too sweeping and gave abortion opponents a symbol to target.
Ginsburg, one of the most liberal members of the nation’s high court, spoke Saturday at the University of Chicago Law School. Ever since the decision, she said, momentum has been on abortion opponents’ side, fueling a state-by-state campaign that has placed more restrictions on abortion.
“That was my concern, that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly,” she told a crowd of students. “… My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change.”
The ruling is also a disappointment to a degree, Ginsburg said, because it was not argued in weighty terms of advancing women’s rights. Rather, the Roe opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, centered on the right to privacy and asserted that it extended to a woman’s decision on whether to end a pregnancy.
Four decades later, abortion is one of the most polarizing issues in American life, and anti-abortion activists have pushed legislation at the state level in an effort to scale back the 1973 decision. This year, governors in North Dakota and Arkansas signed strict new abortion laws, including North Dakota’s ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Ginsburg would have rather seen the justices make a narrower decision that struck down only the Texas law that brought the matter before the court. That law allowed abortions only to save a mother’s life.
A more restrained judgment would have sent a message while allowing momentum to build at a time when a number of states were expanding abortion rights, she said. She added that it might also have denied opponents the argument that abortion rights resulted from an undemocratic process in the decision by “unelected old men.”
Among the questions now is whether the justices will set a nationwide rule that could lead to the overturning of laws in more than three dozen states that currently do not allow same-sex marriage. Even some supporters of gay marriage fear that a broad ruling could put the court ahead of the nation on a hot-button social issue and provoke a backlash similar to the one that has fueled the anti-abortion movement in the years following Roe.
The court could also decide to uphold California’s ban — an outcome that would not affect the District of Columbia and the 11 states that allow gay marriage.
Ginsburg did not address the pending gay marriage cases.
Anti-Reproductive Choice Nutter Group Live Action's Latest Abortion Clinic Undercover Video A Bust | Blog | Media Matters for America
The anti-abortion rights group Live Action released today an undercover video claiming to reveal “illegal and inhuman practices” at an abortion clinic in New York City, and accused a doctor at the clinic of committing murder. The video reveals nothing of the sort, and actually undermines Live Action’s baseless allegations that the clinic is performing illegal procedures and endangering the lives of patients.
Live Action and its founder, Lila Rose, have a long, disreputable history of perpetrating hoaxes and concocting false allegations against abortion rights supporters, Planned Parenthood in particular. This latest “undercover video” project is timed to coincide with the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion provider facing multiple murder charges resulting from the monstrous and horrific procedures he is alleged to have carried out under the guise of women’s reproductive health.
The Live Action video depicts a woman at Dr. Emily Woman’s Health Center in the Bronx inquiring after an abortion in the 23rd week of her pregnancy — a procedure that is legal in New York State. The woman speaks to both a clinician and a counselor at the facility, and the video is edited down to make it appear as though the clinician describes a procedure in which a baby that survives an abortion is killed using a toxic solution.
Based solely on this exchange, Live Action claimed that the doctor who performs abortions at the clinic “has violated” the state’s law against murder in the first degree and called on the state’s attorney general to launch a homicide investigation. But Live Action edited out from the video the portion in which the clinician makes clear that the situation they’re talking about has never happened in her experience and the discussion is hypothetical, and the video shows the counselor explaining to the woman that the doctor would have to resuscitate the baby if that situation did occur.
Despite these flaws, the Live Action video has already been written up by the the New York Post, the Daily Caller, and Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air. The story has spread to Fox News and will likely offer grist for other conservative outlets that have been using the Gosnell trial to attack legal abortion.
While Live Action claims that clinic workers seek to “separate [the woman] from the humanity of her child” in order to “ensure the mother has an expensive abortion,” the full transcript reveals that the counselor urged the woman to be sure that she is comfortable having the abortion and told her to talk it over with a friend before making a final decision.
So despite the inflammatory claims in Live Action’s press release, what the video depicts is two employees at the same clinic reacting to a situation they both say doesn’t actually happen, and one of them accurately describing what would have to happen according to the law. What the video does not depict is any evidence whatsoever that the doctor at the clinic stands in violation of the New York murder statute or the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act, as Live Action claims.
President Obama on Friday at a Planned Parenthood gala in Washington said the women’s health organization is "not going anywhere," despite GOP-led efforts to defund it.
President Obama’s right on.
h/t: TPM Livewire
Rival legal teams, well-financed and highly motivated, are girding for court battles over the coming months on laws enacted in Arkansas and North Dakota that would impose the nation’s toughest bans on abortion.
For all their differences, attorneys for the two states and theabortion-rights supporters opposing them agree on this: The laws represent an unprecedented frontal assault on the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.
The Arkansas law, approved March 6 when legislators overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, would ban most abortions from the 12th week of pregnancy onward. On March 26, North Dakota went further, with Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signing a measure that would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can first be detected and before some women even know they’re pregnant.
Abortion-rights advocates plan to challenge both measures, contending they are unconstitutional violations of the Roe ruling that legalized abortion until a fetus could viably survive outside the womb. A fetus is generally considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks.
"I think they’re going to be blocked immediately by the courts — they are so far outside the clear bounds of what the Supreme Court has said for 40 years," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The center will be leading the North Dakota legal challenge and working in Arkansas alongside the American Civil Liberties Union’s state and national offices. Both Northup and ACLU lawyers say they have ample resources to wage the battles, and they expect victories that would require their attorneys’ fees to be paid by two states.
Dalrymple, in signing the ban, acknowledged that its chances of surviving a court challenge were questionable, but said it was worth the eventual price tag — at this point unknown — in order to test the boundaries of Roe.
North Dakota’s attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, initially said lawyers from his office would defend any lawsuits but is now considering hiring outside help. His office is working on a cost estimate for the litigation that could be presented to lawmakers soon.
"We’re looking at a sufficient amount to adequately defend these enactments," Stenehjem said.
A lead sponsor of the Arkansas ban, Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, said threats of lawsuits “should not prevent someone from doing what is right.”
He contended that the ban had a chance of reaching the U.S. Supreme Court through the appeals process and suggested that the victory predictions made by abortion-rights lawyers amounted to “posturing” aimed at deterring other states from enacting similar bans.
In both Arkansas and North Dakota, the states’ lawyers will be getting pro bono assistance from lawyers with Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal group.
Mathew Staver, the group’s chairman, said supporters of the bans were resolved to fight the legal battles to the end, and issued a caution to the rival side.
"They ought to hold off on their celebrations," he said. "The cases have a long way to go through the court system."
The North Dakota ban is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, along with two other measures that have angered abortion-rights backers. One would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, the other would make North Dakota the first state to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is reviewing its options regarding the latter two bills, but definitely plans to challenge the 6-week ban before Aug. 1. Northup said her team is pondering whether to file suit in state court or U.S. district court.
In Arkansas, where the 12-week ban would take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, abortion-rights lawyers plan to file their challenge in federal court within the next few weeks.
Bettina Brownstein, who will be representing the ACLU of Arkansas in the case, said the U.S. district court with jurisdiction over Little Rock had issued rulings in past abortion-related cases that gave her confidence of victory this time.
"Eventually it could go to U.S. Supreme Court on appeal, but that would take a while, and they may not want to hear it," she said. "It’s a question of how much money the state wants to spend."
Northup chided officials in both Arkansas and North Dakota for their willingness to spend taxpayers’ money on difficult and divisive legal cases.
"It’s important that the citizens of those states realize that every dollar spent to defend blatantly unconstitutional laws is taxpayers’ dollars wasted," she said.
Attorneys’ fees for the upcoming cases are impossible to estimate at this stage, but Northup said her organization received $1.3 million in fees from Alaska after that state lost a recent case regarding an abortion-related law.
The last few years have been intensely busy for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU and other abortion-rights legal groups as Republican-controlled legislatures have enacted scores of laws seeking to restrict access to abortion. At least two dozen such measures are currently the target of lawsuits, said Northup, who vowed that her organization “will not let unconstitutional laws go unchallenged.”
Some of the recent laws place new requirements on abortion clinics, others require abortion providers to perform certain procedures or offer state-mandated counseling before an abortion can take place.
At least 10 states have passed bills banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that stage. One of those laws, in Idaho, was struck down by a U.S. district judge on March 6, while the laws in Georgia and Arizona have been temporarily blocked by judges pending further court proceedings.
Abortion-rights advocates, while eager to defeat the new bans in North Dakota and Arkansas, worry about the impact of the broader surge of restrictions.
"I don’t believe these bans are going to take effect, but the danger is that they make the other laws look reasonable," said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. "The ultimate goal is to take this decision away from a woman and her doctor and give it to the politicians."
One of the most frequent targets of the anti-abortion laws is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which — in addition to providing a range of other health services — is the nation’s leading provider of abortions.
Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said she found it frustrating that women “continue to be a political punching bag.” But she saw an upside to the wave of anti-abortion legislation: more members and more donations for her organization.
"These attacks have served to energize our supporters," she said. "We’ve gained 2 million members in the past two years."
There’s new energy on the other side as well.
The tough North Dakota laws have been welcomed by the protesters who gather weekly in Fargo outside the state’s lone abortion clinic.
Among those on hand for the latest protest at the Red River Women’s Clinic was Scott Carew, 50, who had brought two anti-abortion posters nailed to pieces of wood.
"Certainly, we’re proud of the governor standing up for life," Carew said. "We’re going to keep standing up for life until we can’t stand up anymore."
H/T: Yahoo! News
The landmark decision Roe vs. Wade of 1973 gave women the right to have an abortion until “viability” (which is defined as when a fetus could live outside the mother) which is generally thought to be after 22-24 weeks, or about 6 months. But in the last few years, and especially, it seems, just in the last month, lawmakers in various states across the country are passing laws that contradict Roe’s standing. While these states are most likely setting themselves up for costly lawsuits in their states, pro-choice activists are afraid that this was their plan along—to bring the fight back to the Supreme Court. Here are some states we should keep our eye on.
Kansas: On Tuesday, a bill was passed in the Kansas house which, among many things, would require doctors to inform their patients of the link between breast cancer and abortions. Here’s the thing, that link is totally bogus. Institutions like the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society don’t believe in it, and other studies have completely debunked it. Oh, and that same bill? It wouldn’t allow rape and incest victims to get late term abortions.
Missouri, Texas, Alaska: These states already have some form of law that requires a patient to be informed of that medically-incorrect breast cancer link.
North Dakota: Just this Friday, the North Dakota senate approved a law that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks (and that’s with an invasive vaginal ultrasound). It’s the strictest proposed abortion ban in the country. The bill is on its way to the Republican governor for signature. The North Dakota legislature is also attempting to further abortion bans by considering a “personhood amendment” which would define life as beginning at conception, which could essentially outlaw abortions altogether.
Arkansas: Just two weeks before the North Dakota legislature, Arkansas instituted an abortion ban after 12 weeks, which is the time when you can hear a heartbeat with an abdominal ultrasound. The Democratic governor vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden in the legislature. It will go into effect this summer.
Nebraska: In 2010, Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks with the claim that fetuses feel pain. That law set off a wildfire, with other states like Oklahoma, Indiana and Louisiana passing similar “fetal pain” bills. Conversely, a judge in Idaho struck down that state’s take on the law just this month.
So why is a debate we had and settled on 40 years ago creeping back into political discourse? And will these states eventually erode Roe v. Wade altogether? And can they legally get away with it? Elizabeth Nash, states issue manager and the Guttmacher Institute, will tell us everything when she stops by “The War Room.” Tune in Wednesday night @ 6E/3P on Current TV for more.
Not to be outdone by Arkansas lawmakers — who recently overrode their governor to impose a 12-week abortion ban, the strictest in the country — abortion opponents in North Dakota want to go even further.
So far this year, anti-choice lawmakers in Arkansas and North Dakota have practically tripped over each other to see which state can impose more abortion restrictions. Arkansas initially pulled into the lead by imposing two stringent restrictions, a 20-week abortion ban and, later, a stricter 12-week ban. But North Dakota may be ready to raise the stakes once again. Republican lawmakers are advancing a “fetal heartbeat” measure to outlaw the procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even realize they’re pregnant, and they expect to have enough support to push it though:
House Bill 1456 would make it a felony for a doctor to perform a nonemergency abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as five or six weeks. House Bill 1305 would prohibit abortions sought because a fetus has been or could be diagnosed with any genetically inherited defect, disease or disorder.
The Republican-led state Senate will vote today on the measures, said state Representative Bette Grande of Fargo, who co-sponsored the bills in the Republican-controlled House, where both have passed. Grande said she expects the Senate to approve both and the governor, also a party member, to sign them.
“The heartbeat is society’s marker for life,” Grande, a Republican, said by telephone from Fargo.
So-called “fetal heartbeat” bans are blatantly unconstitutional. Even though Roe v. Wade guarantees the right to legal abortion services until the point of viability, typically around 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy, heartbeat bans narrow that window by as much as 17 weeks.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only egregious affront to reproductive rights that women in North Dakota have to worry about. State lawmakers are also considering an even more radical “personhood” measure that would outlaw abortion altogether, as well as some forms of contraception. And, despite the fact that there’s just one abortion clinic left in the state, anti-choice Republicans are attempting to advance legislation that would force it to close its doors.
- Pro-Lifer/Anti-Reproductive Choicer: Aren't you glad that your mother wasn't pro-choice?
- Pro-Reproductive Choicer: She wasn't? And, all along, I thought she was pro-choice for some time - since before I was even born. But I guess you know my mother better than I do, even though you never met her.
South Dakota’s state senate today passed a bill that would extend the mandatory 72 hour waiting period women face when seeking an abortion in the state to specifically exclude weekend days and holidays from counting towards the 72 hour period. Apparently, South Dakota’s Republican lawmakers think women aren’t able to think as well on weekends.The state House of Representatives approved the anti-choice legislation earlier this month, and it now heads to the governor’s desk.
So far this year, GOP lawmakers in Arkansas and North Dakota have practically tripped over each other to see which state can introduce more anti-abortion legislation. Among other abortion restrictions, each state is currently advancing a “fetal pain” measure to outlaw abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy — based on the scientifically disputed notion that fetuses can feel pain at that point — despite the fact that similar laws have been blocked in court for running afoul of the reproductive rights granted under Roe v. Wade.
On Monday, state senators in both Arkansas and North Dakota approved 20-week abortion bans. Neither measure makes an exception for the health of the woman, despite the fact that women who seek late-term abortions often do so because they discover unexpected health issues or fatal fetal abnormalities. Arkansas’ measure does include narrow exceptions to allow abortion services in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life — but North Dakota’s abortion ban doesn’t even make the narrowest exceptions for rape or incest.
But the possibility of an impending court challenge won’t stop anti-choice lawmakers who are insistent on slowly chipping away at women’s constitutional right to reproductive health services. Both Arkansas and North Dakota have also proposed more extreme abortion measures — a “heartbeat ban” in Arkansas that would outlaw abortion after just 12 weeks, and a “personhood” measure in North Dakota that could ban all abortions and even some forms of contraception — that go even further to circumvent Roe, which guarantees women’s right to a legal abortion until the point of viability, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Republican lawmakers in Alabama took a crucial step on Wednesday towards their goal of shuttering the state’s last five abortion clinics, advancing a bill to the full house that would impose strict requirements on abortion providers.
The bill, the so-called “Women’s Health and Safety Act,” passed the Republican-controlled House Health Committee on Wednesday morning, and could come to vote in the full legislature as soon as Thursday. If passed, it would require clinics to meet certain architectural standards and have a physician present for all abortions — a provision Republicans claim is for the safety of patients, but is in fact a smokescreen designed to make compliance as difficult as possible.
Among the staffing concerns is a provision which states that only a licensed physician with admitting privileges to a hospital within the same metropolitan area as the clinic be allowed to administer abortion-inducing drugs.The end result — much to the delight of the anti-choice lawmakers who propose these bills — is that clinics fall out of compliance and are forced to close or end their abortion services.