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AlterNet: 10 States With the Most Shocking Anti-Woman Legislation

By FZ - Posted on 10 April 2011

Anti-choicers are trying to destroy Roe v. Wade by a death from a thousand cuts.

April 6, 2011- If you feel like the swirl of outrageous state-based anti-woman legislation is worse than it's ever been, you’re not hallucinating. Republicans really have declared a surge in their war on women, and it’s a nationwide phenomenon. Anti-choicers are trying to destroy Roe v. Wade by a death from a thousand cuts, so that when we wake up one day and the right to a safe, legal abortion is really, truly gone in many states, it will be hard to pinpoint exactly which law killed it.

Here’s a sample of 10 states in which access to reproductive health care (and in one case, any kind of health care at all) is severely threatened.

1. South Dakota. There’s only one clinic in the entire state of South Dakota that offers abortion, a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls. No doctors who provide abortions at the clinic live near it, so they all have to fly in from where they work full-time elsewhere to provide this service. A new abortion restriction signed into law last month now threatens even this weak access to abortion. While most media attention has been directed at a religious freedom-violating requirement that women who want abortions have to suffer a Christian fundamentalist anti-choice lecture at a crisis pregnancy center first, it may be the newly mandated 72-hour waiting period that makes it impossible for Planned Parenthood to continue offering abortions.

The law requires the doctor performing the abortion to personally meet with the patient at least three days before her appointment. Despite the lip-smacking claims from backers of the law that this is about making sure women are making “informed” choices, it’s obvious the real aim of the bill is to multiply the number of times the doctors have to fly into the state. The likelihood is high that the demands on their time will prove too much, and the doctors providing abortions in South Dakota will simply quit, leaving the state without a single legal, safe abortion provider.

2. Virginia. Gov. Bob McDonnell and the anti-choice coalition in the state legislature have a two-pronged strategy for the women of their state: attack both their ability to pay for abortion and their ability to find a safe, legal provider in the first place. McDonnell amended a bill establishing Virginia’s health insurance exchange that banned women using the exchange from having insurance coverage for their abortions. Most of these women would struggle to pay for abortion out of pocket, since the exchanges are set up to handle people who aren’t covered by their employers, usually because they’re part-time, underpaid workers or unemployed.

But even if you can get the money together, Virginia wants to make it hard for you to find a doctor. McDonnell also signed into law a bill requiring that abortion clinics meet hospital regulations in order to stay open, which is similar to requiring your dentist to work out of a hospital if he wants to drill your cavities. The move has nothing to do with safety, but will likely end up causing 17 clinics to shut their doors, leaving only four abortion providers in the entire state of nearly 8 million people.

3. Arizona. Arizona has upped the ante by passing a law that uses race-baiting to give angry, abusive men control over women's bodies. The law allows the would-be father to claim that an abortion was done for “race or gender” reasons, meaning that men who are bitter because they were dumped by wives or girlfriends can lash out at the doctor who performed the abortion. This could make clinics hesitant to perform abortions on women who often need them the most, i.e. women in abusive relationships.

Gov. Jan Brewer also signed into law a bill that requires medication abortions to be administered only by doctors. Currently, many abortion services in Arizona are performed by nurse practitioners who have the ability to prescribe RU-486. This move means the end of abortion access in at least three clinics in Flagstaff, Yuma and Prescott.


Mark Crispin Miller
Progressive Democrats of America