Saturday, January 26, 2013

Undermining Abortion Rights in America


There, I said it.

Before some of you read any further than that first word, you're emotionally invested.  Angry.  Upset.  Fired up.

Some of you may refuse to read further, finding only fault and flaw with what I write, and that's fine.  It's your choice to believe what you believe, just as it's my choice to believe what I do. 

See what I just did right there, with that pesky word choice?

This week saw the 40th anniversary of the landmark case Roe v. Wade, one of the most misunderstood, vilified, inflammatory decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court.

While many people believe that Roe v. Wade grants women the right to abortion as a blanket assertion, it doesn't.  What that case did was guarantee that pregnant women have a legal right, under the right to privacy extended by 14th Amendment due process clause, to an abortion.  This right is to be tempered with the State's rights to protect women's health and protect the life of the unborn.  As further cases teased out the specifics, the court has held that the point at which the scale can tip in favor of the state is when the point of viability is crossed, when the fetus would be able to live independently outside the womb.

Since Roe v. Wade, there have been countless cases involving state laws that attempted to place restriction on the right to seek an abortion.  Some have failed, some have succeeded, some are new and more radical than anything we've seen before. 

The right wing conservatives seem determined to never let this issue rest, and refuse to let settled law be settled, always finding new and novel ways to attempt to undermine women's rights.

In the past two years alone, over 130 new laws restricting abortion have been passed throughout the United States.  Some require ultrasounds, some require waiting periods, some require consultation.  There have been restrictions based on the age of the mother, changes to rules about insurance provisions, and strict limits on later term abortions.

Eventually, most of these laws are challenged in the legal system, but potentially the biggest obstacle to women seeking abortions is access.  There are several states that only have one provider in the entire state.  Mississippi passed a law last year requiring all abortion providers to have privileges at a hospital, so the hospitals all declined to extend privileges.  No privileges, no providers. 

Texas has begun requiring vaginal ultrasounds and that the mother listen to the heartbeat prior to any procedure.  They also have discussed forbidding all medication induced early abortions, essentially forcing women to undergo surgical removal.  Arizona has banned almost all abortions past 20 weeks, citing fetal pain as the reason.  A few states persistently introduce personhood legislation in every term as an attempt to indirectly undermine abortion rights.

The most recent addition to pending legislation made me wonder what exactly has happened to our country.  The fact that the proposed law was written by a woman makes it even harder to stomach. 

New Mexico state representative Cathrynn Brown (R), proposed a law that would attempt to force women impregnated through rape to carry the fetus to term, giving the reason that the child conceived is evidence of the crime. 

“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime," the bill says.

A felony of this level could warrant up to three years in prison.  She would incarcerate women for having abortions after a rape.  After the media caught wind of this unimaginable law, she attempted to clarify the motivation behind the law, saying that it was to discourage the rapists from seeking terminations of their victims pregnancies. 

By punishing the victim, she plans to punish the criminal, so she claims.

Here's the thing that people like her don't want you to know....the products of conception removed after an abortion can as easily be tested for genetics as a baby born at term.  There is absolutely no reason to force these rape victims to carry pregnancies that result from a violent crime in order to obtain proof that a crime happened in the first place.

By using terms like legitimate rape, by attempting to force rape victims to carry the children created from criminal acts, these lawmakers aren't just attempting to undermine abortion rights, they are attempting to undermine women's right, period. 

I still can't wrap my head around the fact that a woman proposed the New Mexico bill. 

If that doesn't make you sick enough, how about this fact???

Not only are they trying to prevent you from aborting the baby conceived through rape, in these 31 states, rapists are not treated any differently than any other biological father.  They can seek visitation of the child, shared custody even, forcing the victim to undergo years and years of reminders, of this man forcing his way into her life repeatedly. 

Why do the rapists seem to have more rights than the victims?

If you aren't outraged yet, you should be.


  1. I am not trying ignite a storm, but I want people to think about these PEOPLE. Not anyone is born into the right circumstances, but anyone can rise above their circumstances. I believe that women have a right to their bodies, but they have to realize the consequences of actions - right or wrong. There is a human being there - a picasso, a mozart, a obama, who knows - just a pause to think that maybe your chance to make a difference is there beyond abortion. I have so many single mothers that I respect - women who take that chance and work HARD for the best for their children.

    1. That's a VERY black and white, and might I say selfish, point of view considering the gravity of that child's conception. You assume that these raped women don't understand the gravity of the situation. They know they are pregnany to a PERSON, how patronizing of you to think they have lost sight of that and instead focussed on their own selfish problems. That woman may not have wanted to have children. She may be underage. She may have absolutely no family support, and is on the minimum wage barely able to afford to keep herself alive let alone a new baby. Someone who has been raped does not need to hear advice from those who haven't been through it, because no matter how well meaning, it is not you who will have to live with that decision. And what if she decides she can't go through with the pregnancy and decideds to terminate? Then she has to worry about being judged by all those well meaning people telling her she should carry it to term. Our role is to support 100% the choice that any rape victim makes, because they are at the most vulnerable and lonely place there is when something like that happens.

  2. It sickens me. As a human, as a woman, and most definitely as a person who has experienced sexual assault. It makes me even more sick that she would hide her true right wing agenda behind the idea that it's for evidence in assault cases. My flipping behind. It's because as a right wing republican self-proclaimed christian (who are increasingly NOT following the laws of their own book), she believes it his her right and duty to tell others how to live their lives and what to do with their bodies. I most certainly disagree with late term abortions except for in health of mother cases, but I am adamantly pro choice. And I wish people would start realizing that pro CHOICE doesn't mean pro ABORTION or ANTI LIFE. I personally would never have an abortion. Because I've never been faced with that decision, thank goodness. But it is NOT my right to place any of my beliefs (religious or otherwise) on anyone else. It's time to start realizing that this country, although it may have been founded by SOME people who self identified as Christian, they also made a specific point that America not have an official religion. To protect our citizens from the persecution and forced beliefs that they were subjected to before they came here. I have nothing but kindness and respect for those who are religious (un-hypocritically), but I'm really tired of hearing about the "poor persecuted Christian" when that Christian has no problem persecuting women who make different choices than them. ARGH! Sorry for the Great American Novel but this is a hot button issue for me....

  3. Since the anti-choice folks seem hell bent in keeping this discussion open then (and I'll use some vocabulary they might understand) it's lock and load time. Bring on the debate. Women's rights will NOT be undermined again. Great piece, Kelly.

  4. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

  5. Kelly my dear, you are on a roll of EPIC proportions. This is a debate near and dear to my heart. Never have I been so afraid of lawmakers~ men, (disgustingly) women~ zealots and people hiding behind religion and other ridiculous notions to attempt to FORCE women to conform to these anti-human laws~ completely undermining the rights that women have fought and DIED for. AS a woman: I have been on ALMOST EVERY side of this abortion debate. I have been assaulted. I have been 14 and pregnant. I have had to resort to in-vitro to conceive children with the man who is one of the BEST husbands and fathers a girl could ask for. I have lost two pregnancies to miscarriage in the first trimester. I have delivered a child~ far pre-term~ far pre~ viability. And despite those odds that child LIVED outside of my body~ for an hour and 47 minutes HE LIVED. Two years later when my membranes ruptured at 20 weeks 3 days~ I was callously and VERY coldly offered 'a termination'. That's what the OB/GYN on call in a WORLD RENOWNED women's hospital said: "this child will not live. We can terminate the pregnancy tonight. That's the best I can offer". Well guess fucking what? THAT CHILD is a near five year old living, breathing, HEALTHY miracle girl~ ALIVE AND WELL.
    I have never HAD an abortion. Not that I did not consider it at 14~ believe me, I thought long and hard about it. And even though I have loved, lost and cremated a child who was at a gestation that other women have willing aborted: I STILL BELIEVE, WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING, IN A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE.
    As the mother of 3 daughters I will fight with the last of my breaths to protect THEIR right to CHOOSE for themselves what is the *right* decision for THEM. Without being forced to be humiliated into invasive and unwanted procedures or the 'permission' of a doctor ~or WORSE yet~ a politician.
    My body, my rules, MY DECISION. Not one that I believe many women enter into lightly. And one that has lifelong ramifications no matter the choice made.
    Thank you. Your bravery and willingness to speak and write so eloquently of engaging and controversial topics both humbles and inspires me. I am lucky to know you, to call you friend and to be influenced and encouraged by the woman you are.

    1. and you are effing amazing. just had to say so. I think it is awesome and shows your great character to go through all you have, to have your own personal convictions (even at 14), and STILL believe in the right for others to make their own choices. I just kinda got a girl crush on you just now.

  6. I can't even articulate how upsetting this is. Luckily, you did it for me. Thank you.

  7. Holy shit. I truly have no words. Wow. What a travesty of the human race for being so callously cruel to women and victims.

  8. Unless you've been in the situation of being raped and getting pregnant, you have no right to say how you would handle the situation. I have been the victim of rape and gotten pregnant from that rape. I chose to have an abortion as I did not want to have a constant reminder of the attack. Do I wonder every year on what would have been his birthday what he (yes I was sure it was a boy)would be like - of course. But unless you've been faced with this choice - please don't judge. I went onto college, marry and have 2 loving and loved children. Do I regret being put in that situation - of course - but I'm sure I'd make the same choice even today 40 years later. You don't know what you'd do until you're in that situation - Don't Judge.

  9. Frankly, the "stuff" coming out of the last election mostly via male conservatives is very scary stuff which aims to send womens' rights back wayyyy tooo many years.

    My choice. Your body....your choice. Pretty simple as far as I'm concerned.

    Well written, as always, Kelly!


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