Monday, December 2, 2013

Anti-abortion legislation is hurting providers and women who need their services

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The war against a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy has many aspects to it.  Many of us have been to abortion clinics to show support for women using these facilities and who face a jeering mob of so-called pro-lifers waving the most gruesome posters with dead fetuses on them.

Medical doctors performing abortions have been threatened and in some cases lost their lives to violent pro-life activists more often than not directed by god to do his work. Efforts to repeal Roe V. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states have not been successful either but politicians, mostly men of course, are making it harder and harder for abortion clinics to survive.  In the past two years, Republican controlled states have passed more than 200 restrictions on the procedure, as many as in the last ten years. Close to half of the 73 clinics closed in the recent period are due to legislative restrictions., according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

While Roe V. Wade has survived the attacks, this legislative assault makes it impossible for abortion clinics to help women needing their services. Similar laws were passed to bar Chinese immigration in to the US in the early 20th century, not simply blatant exclusionary laws but also laws aimed at Chinese businesses like laundries, laws that called for certain structural requirements that were difficult if not impossible for these small concerns to comply with.

Laws have been passed that mandate clinics widen hallways, install “high-tech” surgical scrub sinks and are an example of this offensive.  Another strategy is to pass legislation as Texas has that requires doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Given that the decision to have an abortion is primarily an economic one which means abortion rates are higher among minorities and the poor, what the new law in Texas means in real terms is that in some communities doctors are refused admitting rights which means, “To get an abortion, the mostly poor women ……..will now have to drive 150 miles to Corpus Christi or to the local flea market , where illegal do it yourself drugs start at $15 a pill” adds BW.

A section of the Texas law also mandates certain structural changes like janitor closets and backup generators.  The politicians have never been so caring about the conditions of workers as they are when it comes to abortion clinics it seems. These restrictions skyrocketed after Congress passed a law in 1992 that allowed states to implement these changes as long as they didn’t present an “undue burden” to the women needing the clinic’s services.  Naturally, millions is being spent in the courts determining what “undue burden” is.

I think it is important to stress that while we must defend a women’s right to choose, we must not only fight for her right to have an abortion but also the right to have a child or a family without being denied a productive life outside the home or a career. Increasing wages and bringing women’s pay up to that of men is an important step as is free on site childcare in the workplace.  We must demand increased maternity leave, up to two years like some European countries have, for either parent, and without a loss in pay.  Pregnancy is not a disease and the rearing of a child should not be simply a woman's responsibility.

The war against a women’s right to choose and have complete control over her reproductive decisions is having some success and we must be as vigilant in defending it. The rich will always have access to some form of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy as we saw in Mike Leigh’s excellent movie, Vera Drake, and we must demand that abortion be legal, free and provided on demand by a national health system.

And in the last analysis, the decision is a woman’s and hers alone.


Anonymous said...

"And in the last analysis, the decision is a woman’s and hers alone."

I don't actually agree with that statement as a whole, but I can realize that is because my life is reasonably stable and I'm lucky. Ideally a pregnancy would be terminated only out of medical need or if conception was forced criminally....but i realize well enough that isn't always the case nor should it be.

What boggles my mind truly are people who go through such lengths to make abortion illegal, criminalize it, shame it while also rejecting making birth control readily available or promoting abstinence only teaching. If they really wanted abortions to be reduced you think they'd have lobbied to make birth control for women an over the counter drug.

Also some of those drugs obtained "illegally" can be very risk if not deadly.

Richard Mellor said...

I think with regard to the statement about whose choice it is, we have to take that position in order to keep the state, and men who have no right to impose an unwanted pregnancy on a woman out of her bodily affairs. In any situation like this, a woman discusses the issue with her loved one's but we to defend her right to make the choice in the last analysis. Abortion is not an easy choice, but many of those that love life so much don't give a damn about it once its out of the womb and have not said peep about murderous wars like the slaughter in Iraq.

Carmel decroz said...
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