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The pace is accelerating at which a woman’s right to choose is being taken away from her.  The US is going crazy, one state at a time, the Guttmacher Institute documents the slide into insanity.

“January 5, 2012

By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.)

Fully 68% of these new provisions—92 in 24 states—-restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.

Enacted abortion restrictions.
  • For the complete review of state level actions in 2011 click here.
  • For summaries of major state-level actions in 2011, click here.
  • For a table showing reproductive health and rights-related provisions enacted in 2011, click here.
  • For the status of state law and policy on key reproductive health and rights issues, click here.

Abortion Restrictions Took Many Forms

Bans. The most high-profile state-level abortion debate of 2011 took place in Mississippi, where voters rejected the ballot initiative that would have legally defined a human embryo as a person “from the moment of fertilization,” setting the stage to ban all abortions and, potentially, most hormonal contraceptive methods in the state. Meanwhile, five states (AL, ID, IN, KS and OK) enacted provisions to ban abortion at or beyond 20 weeks’ gestation, based on the spurious assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that point. These five states join Nebraska, which adopted a ban on abortions after 20 weeks in 2010 (see State Policies on Later Abortions). A similar limitation was vetoed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D).

Waiting Periods. Three states adopted waiting period requirements for a woman seeking an abortion. In the most egregious of the waiting-period provisions, a new South Dakota law would have required a woman to obtain pre-abortion counseling in person at the abortion facility at least 72 hours prior to the procedure; it would also have required her to visit a state-approved crisis pregnancy center during that 72-hour interval. The law was quickly enjoined in federal district court and is not in effect. A new provision in Texas requires that women who live less than 100 miles from an abortion provider obtain counseling in person at the facility at least 24 hours in advance. Finally, new provisions in North Carolina require counseling at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. With the addition of new requirements in Texas and North Carolina, 26 states mandate that a woman seeking an abortion must wait a prescribed period of time between the counseling and the procedure (see Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion).

Ultrasound. Five states adopted provisions mandating that a woman obtain an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. The two most stringent provisions were adopted in North Carolina and Texas and were immediately enjoined by federal district courts. Both of these restrictions would have required the provider to show and describe the image to the woman. The other three new provisions (in AZ, FL and KS), all of which are in effect, require the abortion provider to offer the woman the opportunity to view the image or listen to a verbal description of it. These new restrictions bring to six the number of states that mandate the performance of an ultrasound prior to an abortion (see Requirements for Ultrasound).

Insurance Coverage. Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah adopted provisions prohibiting all insurance policies in the state from covering abortion except in cases of life endangerment; they all permit individuals to purchase additional coverage at their own expense. These new restrictions bring to eight the number of states limiting abortion coverage in all private insurance plans (see Restricting Insurance Coverage of Abortion).

These four provisions also apply to coverage purchased through the insurance exchanges that will be established as part of the implementation of health care reform. Five additional states (FL, ID, IN, OH and VA) adopted requirements that apply only to coverage purchased on the exchange. The addition of these nine states brings to 16 the number of states restricting abortion coverage available through state insurance exchanges.

Clinic Regulations. Four states enacted provisions directing the state department of health to issue regulations governing facilities and physicians’ offices that provide abortion services. A new provision in Virginia requires a facility providing at least five abortions per month to meet the requirements for a hospital in the state. New requirements in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Utah direct the health agency to develop standards for abortion providers, including requirements for staffing, physical plant, equipment and emergency supplies; supporters of the measures made it clear that the goal was to set standards that would be difficult, if not impossible, for abortion providers to meet. Enforcement of the proposed Kansas regulations has been enjoined by a state court.

Medication Abortion. In 2011, states for the first time moved to limit provision of medication abortion by prohibiting the use of telemedicine. Seven states (AZ, KS, NE, ND, OK, SD and TN) adopted provisions requiring that the physician prescribing the medication be in the same room as the patient (see Medication Abortion).

Family Planning Under Pressure

Family planning services and providers were especially hard-pressed in 2011, facing significant cuts to funding levels, as well as attempts to disqualify some providers for funding because of their association with abortion. Considering the historic fiscal crises facing many states, it is significant that family planning escaped major reductions in nine (CO, CT, DE, IL, KS, MA, ME, NY and PA)of the 18 states where the budget has a specific line-item for family planning. The story, however, was different in the remaining nine states. In six (FL, GA, MI, MN, WA and WI), family planning programs sustained deep cuts, although generally in line with decreases adopted for other health programs. In the other three states, however, the cuts to family planning funding were disproportionate to those to other health programs: Montana eliminated the family planning line item, and New Hampshire and Texas cut funding by 57% and 66%, respectively.

Indiana, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina Texas and Wisconsin, meanwhile, moved to disqualify or otherwise bar certain types of providers from the receipt of family planning funds. New Hampshire decided not to renew its contract through which the Planned Parenthood affiliate in the state received Title X funds.

Given the difficult fiscal and political climate in states in 2011, it is especially noteworthy that Maryland, Washington and Ohio took steps to expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning. With the approval of these two programs, 24 states have expanded eligibility for family planning under Medicaid based solely on income; seven have utilized the new authority under health care reform (see Medicaid Family Planning Eligibility Expansions).

Abstinence-Only Education Is Back

Unlike in recent years when states had moved to expand access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, the only relevant measures enacted in 2011 expanded abstinence education. Mississippi, which had long mandated abstinence education, adopted provisions that make it more difficult for a school district to include other subjects, such as contraception, in order to offer a more comprehensive curriculum. A district will now need to get specific permission to do so from the state department of education. A new requirement enacted in North Dakota mandates that the health education provided in the state include information on the benefits of abstinence “until and within marriage.” Including North Dakota, 37 states now mandate abstinence education (see Sex and HIV Education).

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Over the course of 2011, three states adopted provisions permitting a health care provider to prescribe STI treatment to the partner of a patient, even if he or she has not been seen by the provider. (see Partner Treatment for STIs).”

 

It is nice to see a video not made by the fetus-fetish crowd.  Who thought that bodily autonomy for women would be such a radical idea?

Personal Expression or repression?

Al Jazeera reports: “In the Canadian province of Quebec a furious public debate has erupted over Muslim women who wear the niqab – face veil.

Out of over 200,000 Muslims in Montreal in Quebec, only a few dozen women wear the niqab, but under a proposed new legislation they could be barred from receiving public services.”

When I think about this issue I get a headache.  The complexity and intersectionality of issues regarding women’s rights, religious freedom and society is staggering.  Watch the video for a little background.

Canada is a secular democracy.  I hesitate to fully endorse a law that prohibits anyone from wearing what they deem to be culturally important to them.  Conversely, the Niqab and the Burka are both symbols of the oppression of women by the patriarchal rules of a delusional following known as Islam.

Modesty?  Can men be immodest? Why is there not a male version of the Burka?

“No no no” you see the Burka protects women from men and their uncontrollable rape-happy urges.  So says the Mullah, so says the Patriarchy.  ‘Bullshit’ I say.  Stripping women of their identities does not make them safer, nor does it prevent rape as the commodification and objectification happens by default in any patriarchal society.

The rub comes when people bring their cultural traditions to a secular society and then expect them to be accepted without a hitch.  Whoa!  Cultural relativism warning!  Where do we draw the line when people bring potentially repressive traditions to our society?  How much respect should we accord them?  *gnash teeth*

The thing is that women choose to do repressive objectifying things to themselves all the time.  Is it enough to leave the argument at if women ‘choose’ (aka obeying repressive cultural dictates) to wear the Niqab, so be it despite all the negative baggage associated with it?

To be honest, I really cannot say for sure one way or the other.  What do you think?

It is always nice to see the patriarchy at work.  Devaluing half the population is just peachy keen here in good ‘ole Alberta.

The Parkland Institute reports:

“A new fact sheet, entitled “Women’s equality a long way off in Alberta” shows a persistent wage gap between women and men, despite the 2002-2007 oilsands boom. Alberta is also the only province/territory without any government ministry or advisory council on the status of women.

Alberta women who work full-year, full-time earn just 66% of what men earn. The Canadian average earnings gap is 72%.”

It gets even more fantastic if you read the executive summary!  Our heroic Premier is a little busy licking the spittle off the lips of the oil and gas industry he really does care about the woman-folk, honest.

I saw part of this discussion going on at the Drudge Retort in a thread that I sadly cannot remember. Chalk it up to the fire-hose nature of information here on the web. Anyhow, as I was looking at the thread that shall remain unnamed it turned out that a strong possibility for the lowering of the crime rate in the US was the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision based on the following wisdom:

“When a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has a good reason…” – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J.Dubner in Freakonomics p.138 of the paperback edition. (all further quotes from the same authors).

Amazing what happens when you give women the autonomy that they deserve. But the argument is as follows.

“[…] two factors – childhood poverty and a single parent household-are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future. […] In other words, the very factors that drove millions of American women to have an abortion also seemed to predict that their children, had they been born, would have led unhappy and possibly criminal lives.” – [ibid, 139].

Factor in other sociological factors like the propensity toward of child criminal behaviour in single parent households and the effect of the level of maternal education on children one can conclude that leaving the reproductive choices in the hands of women is the right choice, not only for women, but society as a whole.

“In the early 1990’s, just as the first cohort of children born after Roe vs. Wade was hitting its late teen years-the years during which young men enter their criminal prime- the rate of crime began to fall. What this cohort was missing, of course, were the children who stood the greatest change of becoming criminals. And the crime rate continued to fall as an entire generation came of age minus the children whose mothers had not wanted to bring a child into the world. Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness;unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime.” (emphasis mine). -(ibid 139-140)

So it would seem, abortion is a good thing and a feature of societies with low crime rates.  The funny thing is that in the US at the time the remarkable drop in crime was erroneously attributed several memes that received a lot of play in the media.

“Innovative policing strategies, increased reliance on prisons, changes in crack and other drug markets, aging of the population, tougher gun control laws, strong economy, increased number of police, and other (capital punishment, concealed weapons laws, gun buybacks…)” – (ibid 119)

The supply of cocaine greatly increased as well as the number of police officers these two factors did play a role in the decline of crime during the 1990’s.  The rest as the authors say:

“The others [options], for the most part, figments of someone’s imagination, self-interest or wishful thinking.” – (ibid, 119)

I imagine this sort of correlation must gall the staunch reactionaries that populate the right wing these days.  What? Abortion is Tough on CRIME? *head explodes*

We are heading to into the next decade of the 21st century.  My question is when will women be invited to join our so called advanced civilization?  Follow the link back to the Feministe eZine for the whole article.   One picture below the fold shows a woman being prepared for gang rape, be forewarned.

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