In the past, when we talked about “reproductive rights” being under attack, one could reasonably infer that abortion rights were being undermined. These days, that inference has to be broadened to include everything from access to birth control to access to proper medical care during a pregnancy. That is why we now use the broader reference to “women’s rights” being under attack because, let’s face it, only women have to bear the brunt lawmakers’ obsession with politicizing pregnancy and child birth.
On this front, I usually dispel doom and gloom – and I am not going to disappoint those of you who are emboldened to act by hearing about yet another abuse of women’s rights, autonomy, and medical privacy. But I thought I would start this piece with some good news – O.K., maybe good is overly optimistic; let’s say “encouraging news.” Amid all of the hearings on false claims made by the bogus Center for Medical Progress regarding the sale of fetal tissue that is not happening through abortion providers, four pro-reproductive rights decisions came down.
The conservative state of Arizona had two recent legal victories. A state court permanently blocked a 2012 law that would have forced women to make at least two trips to a doctor to administer the abortion pill. At the same time, the court struck down a requirement in the law that that would have limited a medical (pill-induced) abortion to the seventh week of pregnancy instead of the more commonly prescribed protocol of up to nine weeks. Had the court not ruled in favor of science and common sense, medical abortion would have been all but outlawed in Arizona.
And in another win for science, the U.S. District court for the District of Arizona blocked an Arizona law requiring doctors providing abortions to inform their patients about something the anti-abortion zealots call “abortion reversal” - a dubious claim based on junk science that suggests that a medication abortion can be reversed if the woman acts in a timely manner. The “abortion reversal” procedure was developed by anti-abortion physician George Delgado, and would suggest women take an untested medication to supposedly reverse the effects of mifepristone. This claim is unsupported by any reliable medical and scientific evidence and the tactic would seemingly be used to intimidate and confuse women.
In Utah, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups temporarily blocked a move by Utah Governor Gary Herbert to cut off nearly $300,000 in federal funds for Planned Parenthood family planning services.
And in California, about the only state that actually expands abortion rights, the Reproductive FACTS Act was recently passed. FACT is an acronym for Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency – all solid conservative ideals. The new law forces all reproductive rights providers, including crisis pregnancy centers, to inform their patients about abortion and birth control. Unlicensed clinics and facilities, like so many CPC’s, must also state that their centers are not licensed medical facilities.
But here in Michigan, we recently had a hearing on what we call the Method Ban bill (HB 4833 & 4834). This is essentially an updated version of the campaign to ban safe later term abortion procedures; a campaign that eventually succeeded but only after the U.S. Supreme Court was sufficiently politicized with enough anti-women Justices. This new onslaught is aimed at banning commonly used medical procedures to end pregnancies as early as 14 weeks and is opposed by the medical community. The bills, introduced by Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, were given a hearing in House Criminal Justice committee on October 13, 2015. Opposition was overwhelming but that doesn’t mean that the bills won’t be brought up for a vote. Please take this opportunity call Chair Kurt Heise and tell him that you oppose such restrictions on a woman’s access to medical care.