Unconstitutional abortion laws need reform

In Opinion
(Cathryn Edwards / Daily Titan)

It’s 2017, and certain states are still hell-bent on taking away women’s rights to healthcare and bodily autonomy, all to prevent them from getting one particular medical procedure: abortion.

Starting with the famous 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade that ruled women have the right to an abortion during their first trimester because they have a right to privacy, which is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Even though this landmark decision took the nation a step in the right direction, it has continuously been met with resistance.

In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey almost resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade altogether. Although it narrowly avoided that fate, the decisions made during Roe v. Wade were irrevocably altered for the worse.

The introduction of the “undue burden” test was supposedly meant to stop states from creating restrictions that would create “substantial obstacles” for a woman seeking to get an abortion, but none of those terms were properly defined. To this day, states continue to find loopholes to make the procedure extremely difficult to get.

In 2016, there were over 60 abortion restrictions enacted, and more than 500 introduced, according to an analysis by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

Kentucky now requires that state-mandated counseling take place either in-person in the physician’s office or via “realtime visual telehealth services.” Women who do not have access to a computer or a phone equipped for this service will have to make two trips to the clinic, something that can be difficult or impossible for low-income women.

South Dakota law requires health-care providers to inform patients that it is possible to “discontinue” a medication abortion by not taking misoprostol, the second pill taken in the protocol for medication abortion, even though this is false and violates health-care providers First Amendment rights.

Utah enacted a law that requires abortion providers to use fetal anesthesia on patients getting an abortion after 20 weeks, even when the woman does not consent to it, so that the fetus will not feel pain. This is propaganda to make women feel bad, seeing as evidence points to the fact that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.

“This new barrage of attacks shows that the anti-abortion movement has abandoned its pretense of protecting women’s health and safety,” said the CRR report. “Women’s health advocates across the country are pushing back, and will continue to push back, against this extreme agenda.”

Louisiana is being sued for seven anti-abortion laws, one of which would ban the dilation and evacuation procedure that is regarded as the safest and most common method of abortion for women in their second trimester. This is forcing doctors to use an abortion method that has a higher rate of complications, according to the Huffington Post.

One part of Oklahoma’s 2016 “Humanity of the Unborn Child Act” would have required public restaurants, hospitals, schools and hotels to post signs in their restrooms urging pregnant women to carry to term. Because of protests, it has now been revised so that only the restrooms in abortion clinics are affected.

An Indiana bill was blocked in 2016 that prohibited abortion providers from doing their job if they knew that the reason for it was solely due to “the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability,” according to Indiana General Assembly.

There is absolutely no evidence that women get abortions based on the fetus’s race or gender, and there definitely is evidence that many women will choose to abort a fetus that was found to have a disability because they wouldn’t be able to properly take care of it.

The law getting the most attention, however, is Texas law HB2.

Then-State Senator Wendy Davis tried to strike it down with an 11 hour filibuster, but where she sadly failed, the courts succeeded in the landmark 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

HB2 required physicians who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic, and it also required abortion clinics to comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers.

This was said to be for the protection of women’s health, but in actuality, it would do nothing for women’s health, and everything for preventing women from having access to abortion clinics. It was predicted that this law would force 75 percent of the clinics in Texas to close, leaving some women with their closest clinic a day’s trip away.

Rightly so, it was found that this law created an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that targeted regulation of abortion providers, or TRAP laws, would not survive upon judicial inspection.

While the states are trying their best to create laws faster than the courts can strike them down, it is a good sign that the courts are at least trying to keep up and are showing a willingness to review the definition of an “undue burden” by finding these laws unconstitutional.

Women deserve the right to bodily autonomy, and that shouldn’t be in question just because women have wombs. State officials need to reread the Constitution, recognize that there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State and focus their efforts on things other than the masochistic control of women.

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