• March 29, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Tea Party activists and many of today’s Republican politicians claim to loathe big government. They say they want a limited government role in our lives. But when it comes to the autonomy of women or privacy rights of gay couples, many of those same activists and politicians clamor for government interference.

    A few weeks after Arkansas lawmakers adopted one of the nation’s most restrictive measures on abortions, banning them at 12 weeks of pregnancy; North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law an even more outlandish attack on abortion. The law forbids abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, as The New York Times reported earlier this week. Fetal heartbeats, the newspaper noted can be detected “as early as six weeks” by using an invasive procedure, a transvaginal ultrasound.

    In his statement announcing signing of the bill, HB 1456, into law, Gov. Dalrymple said “the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question,” but it is nevertheless “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

    Discovering the boundaries of Roe is a euphemism for lawmakers’ efforts to topple the landmark Supreme Court opinion. State lawmakers have been on a tear over the last few years passing measures aimed at making it incredibly difficult for women to obtain abortions, especially for women with little means to travel long distances to find a physician willing and able to perform abortions. It is not enough that lawmakers have crafted laws that force women to listen to government propaganda about the alleged dangers of abortions or undergo invasive medical procedures; they want the ability to bar women from receiving abortions.

    In Roe, the high court held that the Constitution’s protections of privacy include the decision to have an abortion. The Roe Court only said that states could regulate that right at the point of viability, about 24 weeks.

  • March 20, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Lawmakers bent on undermining the rights of women are not of course confined to the nation’s capital. They just happen to draw plenty of attention, especially when they attempt to scuttle health care policy intended to protect the health of women or decide to slow expansion of the Violence Against Women Act, a law that has been reauthorized, with bipartisan support, twice since its passage in 1994.

    But over the past two years numerous state lawmakers have garnered increasing notice for their strident efforts to make it nearly impossible for women to obtain abortions. Louise Melling, director of the ACLU’s Center for Liberty, noted last year that the states were on a disconcerting roll of attacking reproductive rights. In the process, Melling said the states were stigmatizing women, by essentially saying they are incapable of making decisions on abortions. These state efforts say “women can’t make these decisions, we’re not … trusted decision-makers, and we need assistance as we make this decision,” Melling told ACSblog.

    Reporting for The Huffington Post, Laura Bassett notes that Idaho’s attempt to force women to undergo an ultrasound and hear anti-abortion propaganda from the state before choosing to have an abortion included a ridiculously offensive comment from state Sen. Chuck Winder.

    Before the Senate passed the bill, some opponents noted it failed to provide an “exception for rape victims, incest victims or women in medical emergencies,” Bassett wrote.

    Winder responded to the concern by suggesting that women may not know when they’ve been raped.

    “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this,” he said. “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was the pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

    Bassett notes that if Idaho’s bill becomes law, victims of rape or incest seeking an abortion will be steered to centers that aim “to dissuade women from having an abortion.”

    Idaho is among the slew of states that have joined with national lawmakers in an increasingly aggressive attack on women’s rights. Blog for choice provides more information on the “serious nationwide outbreak of politicians who are practicing medicine without a license.”

    What is likely not surprising is that many of the right-wing politicians peddling destructive health care policy for women, are also in the camp of decrying the landmark health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as a heavy-handed attempt by the federal government to regulate the health care industry.

    Former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger (pictured), at last year’s ACS National Convention, lambasted the argument that the ACA was a grave threat to liberty.