2012: A year of disaster for abortion rights in U.S.
As the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. approaches on January 22, a new study by the Guttmacher Institute, shows that last year 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these sought to restrict access to abortion. Although a decrease from the record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, it is the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions.
2011 restrictions featured age limits, late-term abortion bans (including bans at 20-weeks), clinic regulations that are near-impossible to meet and forbidding insurance coverage, to name a few.
Writing for RHrealitycheck under the headline “2012 was an unmitigated disaster for abortion rights,” Sarah Seltzer cites “a few examples of shaming, nitpicking and intrusive kinds of laws” that were passed in 2012:
- A new provision enacted in Mississippi requires a physician performing an abortion on a minor younger than 14 provide a tissue sample to the state bureau of investigation.
- In South Carolina, an employees’ health plan that used to cover abortion to save the woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest, now says it will cover abortions only in cases of life endangerment; the cost in cases of rape or incest must now be paid entirely from employees’ premiums.
- The new ultrasound law in Virginia requires that women who live less than 100 miles from the clinic undergo the ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the abortion. The new provision compels women to make two trips to the clinic before receiving an abortion.
With all of this bad news, Merle Hoffman, Publisher of On the Issues Magazine, CEO/founder of Choices Women’s Health Center in Queens and a long time fighter for abortion rights, says that she will be “Recommitting, not celebrating” this January 22. OTI has a special issue out now on the 40th anniversary on Roe (ontheissuesmagazine.com).
And I’m proud to announce that Merle Hoffman will be our live guest on January 22 between 4 and 5 p.m. on Talkback. Hugh Hamilton has graciously ceded his second hour on that day to JOR so that we can do special programming to mark this important anniversary. So please mark that on your calendar.
Study reveals denials of constitutional rights to pregnant women is increasing
On Tuesday, January 15, the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law published a groundbreaking study, “Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health.” The study identified 413 criminal and civil cases involving arrests, detentions, and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women’s physical liberty that occurred between 1973 (when Roe v. Wade was decided) and 2005 and that pregnant women face attacks on virtually every right associated with constitutional personhood, including the right to physical liberty.
Many states have passed feticide measures and laws restricting access to safe abortion, like so-called “personhood” measures, that encourage the treatment of eggs, embryos, and fetuses as if they are legally separate from the pregnant woman. These laws have been used as the basis for a disturbing range of punitive state actions in every region of the country and against women of every race, though disproportionately against women in the South, low-income women and African-American women.
- A woman in Utah was arrested and charged with criminal homicide based on the claim that her decision to delay cesarean surgery was the cause of a stillbirth.
- A woman in Oregon who did not comply with a doctor’s recommendation to have additional testing for diabetes was subjected to involuntary civil commitment.
- A Louisiana woman was charged with murder and spent almost a year in jail before her counsel was able to show that what was deemed a murder of a fetus or newborn was actually a miscarriage.
- A doctor in Wisconsin had concerns about a woman’s plans to have her birth attended by a midwife. As a result, a civil court order of protective custody for the woman’s fetus was obtained.
Women’s Equality Agenda proposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the Women’s Equality Agenda — a 10-point plan to break down barriers to women’s full and equal participation in society. The New York Civil Liberties Union is urging that legislators in Albany hear from their constituents to pass it.
This legislative package includes measures that protect and strengthen reproductive freedom and addresses many of the ways that women experience discrimination, including proposals to:
- Achieve pay equity.
- Extend sexual harassment laws to all work places.
- Protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination.
- End discrimination against single parents and those who receive housing assistance.
You can go to NYCLU.org to sign that petition and get more information. And we’ll be examining that proposal in more detail on future show.
You can get fired for being “too attractive” in Iowa
The Iowa State Supreme Court has ruled, 7-0, that bosses can fire employees they see as an “irresistible attraction,” even if the employees have not engaged in flirtatious behavior or otherwise done anything wrong. Such firings may be unfair, but they are not unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because they are motivated by feelings and emotions, not gender, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote.
Mormon women receive threats for wearing pants to church
“Wear Pants to Church,” an event on Sunday, December 19, was meant to draw attention to the role of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, using attire as a symbolic first salvo in a larger struggle over gender inequalities.
Thousands of Mormon women arrived at church in pants in places like Cambridge, England; Heidelberg, Germany; Austin, Texas; the Marshall Islands; and Kotzebue, Alaska. A number of the women posted their photos on Facebook and other Web sites. Others said they could not participate because they were fearful of ridicule or reprimand.
Organizers hope the dialogue will now expand to include issues like the ordination of women, or women taking on more responsibilities at church event, the fact that Boy Scouts play a role in the Church while girls do not and men are expected to become missionaries while women are not.
“Wear Pants to Church” was the idea of Stephanie Lauritzen of Salt Lake City. She and some fellow Mormon women who belonged to a group called All Enlisted posted an events page on Facebook on Dec. 9. Within days, thousands had pledged their support, but one person threatened to shoot women who showed up in pants. Ms. Lauritzen, 26, also received threats on her own Facebook page that are being investigated by Facebook and the local authorities, she said.
Aimee Hickman, the editor of a Mormon feminist magazine called Exponent II, said she originally had reservations about the event. But then she saw the negative reaction by church members online. The attention drawn to the effort, she added, “has people talking about Mormon gender roles more than anything I’ve seen.”
Women to demand full access to Morning After Pill
It has been exactly one year since Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius made the unprecedented decision to overrule the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to expand access to the Morning-After Pill.
National Women’s Liberation is demanding that HHS stop blocking over-the-counter approval of the Morning-After Pill.and they are inviting all to come to a speakout on Tuesday, January 22, 2012, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30pm, outside of 26 Federal Plaza (the New York City office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to protest the agency’s failure to correct this decision. Organizers say they are “holding a speakout on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to underscore our demand that all females who are old enough to be pregnant have access to ALL forms of birth control.”
Women directly impacted by this decision will speak about their experiences trying to access the Morning-After Pill Restricting the Morning After Pill to females ages 17 and older, makes it physically inaccessible to all females because it is kept “behind-the-counter” at pharmacies. The Morning-After Pill is already available without a prescription in over 45 other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Egypt.
You can contact National Women’s Liberation through their website at womensliberation.org.