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Losing the Right to Abortion Later in Pregnancy

2:14 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Susan Yanow for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

 Cross-posted with permission from the ANSIRH blog.

While access to abortion is increasingly restricted in many states, options for women needing an abortion after 20 weeks have narrowed dramatically.

In April 2010, Nebraska became the first state in the country to pass a restriction on abortion after 20 weeks, based on an unscientific claim that fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks gestation. The Nebraska law banned abortions after 20 weeks for any reason except if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.

Prior to the passage of this law in Nebraska, there were 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) where abortion was available after 20 weeks. Although in most of these states these services were dependent on one site and one physician, nonetheless the services existed. Since April 2010, legislation limiting abortions to 20 weeks has been signed into law in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Bills making access to later abortion more difficult were passed in Missouri and Ohio.

Arizona’s lawmakers have gone even further. Although the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion through the second trimester, generally understood as 24-26 weeks, Arizona has redefined biology and the right to abortion and banned abortion after 18 weeks LMP (from the last menstrual period). The trimester construction of Roe is becoming irrelevant in many states.

And perhaps it is time to move beyond the trimester construction established in Roe — but not for the reasons put forth by those opposed to abortion under all circumstances. We must expand our advocacy to include women who seek abortions later in pregnancy.

Studies show that many women who present at clinics after 20 weeks wanted an earlier abortion, but faced financial hurdles and legal barriers — barriers which have increased as states pass new waiting periods, facility regulations, and other laws that restrict access to care. Other women face a diagnosis of fetal anomaly later in pregnancy. For still other women, circumstances shift and a wanted pregnancy becomes untenable when a woman’s partner leaves, her young child develops a serious illness and needs her full attention, or someone in the family loses his/her job and/or health insurance.

These life situations do not fall neatly into a trimester construction. All of these women need to be able to make decisions about their futures, their lives, and their health.

The restrictions on later abortion are part of a broad attack on women’s fundamental right to abortion. We must come together to find new strategies to protect existing services, help women who need later abortion care to get to those states where the services are still provided, build understanding and compassion for every woman’s unique life situation, and stand up for the right of every woman to access the abortion she needs; as early as possible, and as late as necessary.

In Missouri, Legislators Fail to Protect Women’s Basic Rights, Undermining Justice for All

8:11 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Pamela Merritt for RHRealityCheck.org. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

On July 14, 2011, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon allowed two identical abortion restriction bills to become law. In a bizarre move toward the end of the 2011 legislative session, Missouri legislators passed two versions of the same restriction bill, one originally filed in the Senate and the other in the House. The passage of identical abortion restriction bills was likely fueled by more than one legislator wanting to take credit.

Often erroneously reported as banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation, HB213 & SB65 can more accurately be described as eliminating certain health exceptions that protected women facing serious pregnancy-related complications. The legislation changes the factors physicians must consider before performing a post-viability abortion and creates criminal penalties for physicians not following the new regulations. Governor Nixon, a Democrat who successfully ran as a pro-choice candidate in 2008, did not sign the abortion restriction bills into law nor did he veto the legislation.  The identical abortion restriction bills automatically became law once the July 14, 2011 veto deadline passed.

Reproductive justice advocates had hoped that Governor Nixon would veto the abortion restriction bills. In the weeks leading up to the 2011 veto deadline, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial that called on the Governor to do just that and send a message to state legislators that it is time to get serious and cease treating women’s health like a political football. The Post-Dispatch editorial points out that Missouri’s annual legislative pander to anti-choice special interest groups in lieu of focusing on prevention is both fiscally irresponsible and hypocritical; unintended pregnancies cost tax payers billions, while reducing the number of unintended pregnancies would also reduce the number of abortions. But as the hours ticked by Thursday July 14th it became clear that the Governor was not going to capitalize on this leadership opportunity to send a message through his veto.

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McCain Repeats Debunked ‘Born Alive’ Attacks in Debate

9:05 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

In the final presidential debate, Senator John McCain repeated long debunked lies about Sen. Barack Obama’s record on the Illinois Born Alive Protection Act, lies that heve been repreated and promoted since Alan Keyes lost to Obama in the US Seante race in 2004. This full frontal effort may appeal to the extreme far-right of his base, but it was a dial test loser on CNN. Americans are fed up with the far-right’s Culture War. The CBS insta-poll shows Obama winning the debate 53 percent to 22 percent with 24 percent saying is was a draw.

The extreme fringe of anti-choice community has been pushing this attack for months, in television and radio ads from 527s and special interest lobbyists like the National Right to Life Committee.

The coordinated efforts are suggest that in voting against the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act Senator Barack Obama is "responsible for killing a bill to provide care and protection for babies who are born alive after abortions" and that "he later misrepresented the bill’s content." NRLC has filed a request for an advisory opinion from the FEC as to whether the ad falls within FEC guidelines, TPM reported.

The anti-choice movement says it needs Read the rest of this entry →