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Posts tagged "Reproductive Rights"

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

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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.

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)

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.

h/t: TPM

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.

H/T: MMFA

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

current:

States slowly chipping away at Roe vs. Wade: How far will they go?

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.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)

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.

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

  • 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. 

RWW

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.

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

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.

2011 and 2012 were both record-breaking years for new abortion restrictions, and abortion opponents are aren’t showing signs of letting up this year. The “personhood” movement to endow zygotes with the full rights of U.S. citizens, effectively outlawing all abortions and even some forms of contraception, has largely been a failure — but that doesn’t mean anti-choice lawmakers are giving up their quest to redefine the medical terms of pregnancy. The push for “fetal heartbeat” bans is the next anti-choice movement to watch.

Fetal heartbeat measures seek to outlaw abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which can occur as early as six weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant — in direct contradiction to Roe v. Wade, which guarantees women’s right to an abortion until the point of viability at about 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy. Despite the fact that heartbeat bills are much more extreme than the 20-week abortion bans that are already floundering in court for running afoul of Roe v. Wade, anti-choice lawmakers in at least five states are flirting with this type of legislation:

– OHIO: Anti-choice lawmakers in Ohio first advanced a heartbeat bill in 2011. After the measure was stalled in the state senate for over a year, abortion opponents pressured the legislature to take up the issue again during their lame duck session after the 2012 elections. But ultimately, the bill didn’t come up for a vote because the state Senate leader, Tom Niehaus (R-OH), acknowledged it was too controversial even among abortion opponents. Niehaus said he wanted to wait until lawmakers anti-choice community reached consensus on the measure — which means it could be back on the agenda sometime this year.

– MISSISSIPPI: About a week into the new year, GOP lawmakers in Mississippi filed a fetal heartbeat bill virtually identical to the one that failed to make it out of committee during the state’s last legislative session. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has already made it clear that he would sign such a bill if it ever reaches his desk. At a private anti-abortion event at the beginning of January, the governor confirmed that he supports banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. “It would tell that mother, ‘Your child has a heartbeat,’” Bryant said.

– WYOMING: About two weeks ago, state Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R) introduced a measure to supersede the medical definition of viability. Current state law says abortions are prohibited after a fetus has “reached viability,” and Kroeker sought to replace those words with “a detectable fetal heartbeat.” The Republican lawmaker said the idea for his heartbeat bill just came to him one day because “it became clear that if a baby had a heartbeat, that seemed simple to me that it’s wrong to kill it.” On Monday, a House panel struck down Kroeker’s bill because it was too medically vague. But if Ohio and Mississippi are any indication, this likely won’t be the last time that fetal heartbeat legislation shows up in Wyoming.

– ARKANSAS: Republicans in Arkansas also hopped on the fetal heartbeat train this week, but they went a step further — state Sen. Jason Rapert’s (R) proposed heartbeat bill would prosecute the doctors who perform abortions after the arbitrary cut-off with a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. And thanks to the strong Republican majorities in Arkansas’ legislature, this piece of legislation has a good chance of advancing. It easily passed out of committee on Wednesday and is now headed to the state Senate, where 19 of the chamber’s total 35 members have already signed onto it as co-sponsors.

– NORTH DAKOTA: Like Arkansas, the anti-choice politicians in North Dakota want to prosecute the doctors who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — and their heartbeat ban was part of the “flurry” of anti-abortion bills that lawmakers rushed to introduce around last week’s Roe v. Wade anniversary. A House committee is currently considering the measure, along with an even more radical “personhood” proposal. North Dakota has already imposed some the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the nation, and women’s health advocates in the state warn that the passage of these new bills “would be tantamount to banning abortion” altogether.

Three of the states on this list — Mississippi, Arkansas, and North Dakota — only have a single surgical abortion clinic left in the entire state, which means women already have to overcome significant geographic barriers to obtain an abortion. 

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress

Should a recently introduced bill in New Mexico become law, rape victims will be required to carry their pregnancies to term during their sexual assault trials or face charges of “tampering with evidence.

Under HB 206, if a woman ended her pregnancy after being raped, both she and her doctor would be charged with a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison:

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.

Sexual assault trials are infamously grueling for survivors, who are often subjected to character assassination and other attempts to discredit their accounts. State Rep. Cathrynn Brown’s (R) bill would add the forced choice between prison or an unwanted pregnancy to these proceedings.

After several failed GOP candidates, including Todd Akin (R-MO) and Richard Mourdock (R-IN), made offensive comments about rape victims during the last election season, Republican consultants launched sensitivity training to teach candidates how to avoid talking about rape. But GOP policy speaks for itself. At the federal level, former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a failed bill that would negate sexual assault that are not deemed “forcible rape.” And another New Mexico lawmaker, Gov. Susana Martinez (R), advanced a proposal to require women who become pregnant from rape to prove they were “forcibly raped” in order to qualify for childcare assistance.

h/t: Aviva Shen at Think Progress Health