It’s been an abortion-palooza across America! Let’s take this one shitty state at a time. (Trigger warning for discussions of abortion, rape, and incest.)
- Texas: After Wendy Davis’s filibuster successfully blocked voting on SB5, Gov. Rick Perry called for another special session of Congress to try to pass the same bill (as SB1 this time). It easily passed the House on Wednesday and now goes to the Senate, where it also expected to pass. Of course, the bill doesn’t only ban abortions after 20 weeks; it would also force abortion clinics to close unless they are certified as ambulatory surgery centers, meaning that many poor, uninsured Texans will find it harder to get the other services these clinics provide. (And guess who stands to make a ridiculous amount of money off the deal because she works for a company that owns many of the states existing ambulatory surgery centers? Rick Perry’s sister, Milla Perry Jones. That’s not at all suspicious.) Protests at the capitol have been ongoing; thousands of women have turned out, but many men are joining them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the men protesting against the bill come off a lot better than the ones carrying signs that say “I Regret My Abortion.” Sure you do, dudes. Limited access to abortion clinics in Texas have already driven many women to seek out abortion drugs illegally at flea markets. Of course, all the time spent on abortion bills means the legislature has ignored many other issues, such as putting in place regulations to prevent future tragedies like the explosion in West that killed 12 people. Because that would be intrusive. I wish I were kidding.
- Ohio: Ohio passed a new budget that guts abortion rights in the state. Funding was cut to Planned Parenthood, rape crisis centers will lose their funding if they even talk to patients about abortion (though crisis pregnancy centers, which frequently lie about the risks of abortion, will still be funded), and abortion clinics will be shut down unless they have a transfer agreement with a local hospital (though public hospitals can’t sign these agreements, only private ones). And of course, there’s the usual stuff about giving women seeking abortions unnecessary ultrasounds and descriptions of the fetus. The dumbest and potentially most ridiculous part? Technically, by their (incorrect) definitions of pregnancy, abortion, and birth control, the bill may require an ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period to even get birth control.
- Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would require mandatory ultrasounds for women who want abortions, and would also require that all doctors who provide abortions have hospital admitting privileges (which would cause two of the state’s clinics to close). However, a federal judge has temporarily blocked its implementation until a hearing can be held on July 17 for a lawsuit that claims that the bill is unconstitutional.
- Iowa: A new law requires the governor to personally approve every use of state Medicaid funds to pay for an abortion. There’s also a movement in the state to outlaw a system whereby Planned Parenthood patients can videoconference with a doctor in order to receive abortion pills at the clinic instead of having to meet with them face-to-face.
- North Carolina: After Gov. Pat McCrory threatened to veto abortion regulations that had been attached to an anti-Sharia law bill due to a provision that would have closed many clinics and limited women’s access to healthcare, state lawmakers attached a different set of regulations to a law about motorcycle safety. The abortion rules were added to the bill at the last minute, meaning some of the legislators who would be debating the bill didn’t know about the change until minutes before they convened, and that only because they saw it on Twitter. While the new regulations would no longer require abortion clinics to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers, doctors would have to watch patients take their first dose of abortion pills.
- Alabama: Finally, a teeny bit of good news. A judge has extended until August 15 a delay in the enforcement of an Alabama law that would force the closure of three of the state’s five abortion clinics.
Of course, the most obvious side effect of abortion restrictions is that more women will have babies, particularly women who can’t afford to travel to obtain abortions or even to take off multiple days from work for the extra doctor’s appointments required when states require waiting periods and unnecessary tests. Having a baby in the U.S. can be extremely expensive, even for individuals who have health insurance but may have high deductibles or limited (or no) pregnancy coverage with their plan. The numbers are, frankly, terrifying.
From 2004 to 2010, the prices that insurers paid for childbirth – one of the most universal medical encounters – rose 49 percent for vaginal births and 41 percent for Caesarean sections in the United States, with average out-of-pocket costs rising fourfold, according to a recent report by Truven that was commissioned by three health care groups. The average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care was about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section, with commercial insurers paying out an average of $18,329 and $27,866, the report found.
Women with insurance pay out of pocket an average of $3,400, according to a survey by Childbirth Connection, one of the groups behind the maternity costs report. Two decades ago, women typically paid nothing other than a small fee if they opted for a private hospital room or television.
It’s not just the U.S., though. An 11-year-old Chilean girl is 14 weeks pregnant after being repeatedly raped by her mother’s partner over the course of two years. Doctors fear her life and the life of the fetus may be in danger, but abortions are banned in all circumstances in the country. The girl has said she wants to have the baby because “It will be like having a doll in my arms,” which has garnered her praise from President Sebastian Pinera, but many fear that such a young child is incapable of understanding the ramifications of continuing with the pregnancy.
Politicians in Ireland are debating a law that would legalize abortions only in cases where the mother’s life would be in danger if the pregnancy continued. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 is expected to pass, though a provision that would allow abortions if the woman threatened suicide otherwise has been strongly contested.
People often ask pro-choice advocates how they’d feel if their mother had had an abortion. Well, many women’s mothers did, though they may have been ashamed to admit it, and one daughter is calling on other older women to speak out about their experiences. Jessica Grose, however, wants people to stop trotting out abortion sob stories that feed into the narrative that only sad abortions are OK.
Rob Delaney at The Guardian talks about being a man who loves kids and yet supports women’s right to choose because it isn’t his damn business. I particularly enjoyed this bit:
I don’t know how to look at those who’d restrict or deny access to abortion, contraception and abortion and not see misogyny. Not sexism; that’s a gender neutral word. Misogyny is the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women. It’s an ugly word and it represents an ugly thing.
Finally, take a listen to Katie Heim’s poem, “If My Vagina Was a Gun,” which she recited during a Texas State Senate committee hearing on SB1.