Let’s talk about abortion for a bit.
Well, I see I picked the wrong topic to focus on last week, didn’t I? I was all, End the Mommy Wars, Yo! Women Unite! Then, just before posting, I found that ultrasound bill article, and I added it—didn’t bother to read it, mind you, because as we know I’m not big on the reading—and hoo doggies, it seems I passed over a real firecracker of a topic!
Actually you did precisely what I wish the media would do—get past all the mother-fretting and address some real topics. That was tricky of you, to do that like that. You’re smarter than me. Than I? You’re smarter than me is. Good you. Thank.
Because I should have addressed the abortion bill last week, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk about it now.
South Carolina’s Senate is expected to pass a bill requiring abortion-seeking women to first view an ultrasound of the fetus. The House passed the legislation, 91-23. The governor supports it. All evidence points to it soon being state law.
Let me first state what I think is fairly obvious, what many of my commenters said last week: This bill is beyond insulting. It assumes that the woman who has reached this decision has done so lightly, that she doesn’t know or want to acknowledge what’s inside her. It is a blanket condemnation of all women who opt to abort their pregnancies. It turns into state law something that should be a private decision between a woman and her practitioner. It’s cruel and gratuitous.
(Incidentally, the bill was passed after lawmakers defeated amendments exempting rape or incest victims from mandatory ultrasounds. Defeated them. These people didn’t even want rape and incest victims to get a pass. Now, in order for the bill to be passed, these exemptions will almost certainly be back in, but still, I think it’s important to note the mindset of those who want to see this bill become state law.)
How, pray tell, will the woman be required to view the ultrasound? If she turns her head, is someone going to force her to turn it back? What happens if the woman closes her eyes—how are we going to pry open her eyelids?
There’s a lot of noise about the mandatory ultrasound being “educational,” but that’s putting a rather euphemistic spin on it. In fact, it’s intimidation, pure and simple. It’s one more hurdle put up specifically to prevent women from having abortions. Seen as an intimidation tool, it’s not hard to see that its targets are the people with the fewest emotional, financial, and social resources: the young, the uneducated, the poor. Desperate people without options, without a plan. When these people are faced with an authority figure showing them—implicitly or explicitly—why their decision is wrong, what do you think they’re going to do?
As I noted in a previous post, Babies are abandoned regularly in the U.S., and the risk of homicide on the first day of life is 10 times greater than the rate during any other time of life. Putting up more roadblocks to abortion will undoubtedly increase the number of these grim crimes.
Reader Angie pointed out the following in last week’s comments:
“These facts are from the South Carolina Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program’s website.
• Infant mortality is an indicator of the overall health of a community. Ten of the 12 states with the highest infant death rates are in the South, with South Carolina ranking first in eight of the last ten years.
• Forty-three and a half percent of pregnant women in South Carolina receive inadequate prenatal care.
• In addition, South Carolina ranks among the worst ten states on characteristics correlated with low birth weight (i.e. prematurity, births to women with inadequate prenatal care, unmarried women and teenagers.)”
So, South Carolina: if your intimidation tactics prove effective and fewer abortions occur, are you going to step forward and support those mothers, despite all evidence to the contrary? Are you going to provide medical care, psychological assistance, day care for the baby?
Make no mistake: this South Carolina bill is not an isolated incident. This is one small step toward illegalizing abortions in each state as soon as Roe V. Wade is overturned. My rudimentary attempts at research turned up the following changes (or attempts at changes) in legislation, most of which occurred in the past two weeks:
Michigan has passed a law requiring abortion providers to give women the opportunity to view an ultrasound.
Georgia is debating passing an identical bill.
In Missisisippi, the Governor signed a bill outlawing abortions in the event of Roe V. Wade being overturned.
A similar “trigger bill” was filed in Texas, along with a bill proposing paying women $500 to give their babies up for adoption rather than abort.
The governor of Idaho signed into law a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions.
In Florida, the House approved an amended bill on parental consent that snuck in a clause for women of all ages seeking abortions: a 24-hour waiting period.
In February, a Tennessee bill was introduced that would require death certificates for fetuses, thus making public the identity of women who have had abortions.
Parental consent, a 24-hour waiting period… these bills may seem innocuous, even wise, but think about whom they’ll intimidate out of pursuing abortions. The teenagers who might hide their pregnancies and abandon their babies at birth. The working poor who are turned away at the abortion clinic in order for them to “reconsider,” and don’t have the time or resources or will to return.
Abortion is a terrible option, but that’s what it has to be: an option. Without it, we’re in for illegal abortions, backroom affairs that end in injury and death, or women risking their lives with unapproved, black-market drugs. We’ll have more abandoned babies, more child homicides. Meanwhile, legislators tell us that this option to abort should be taken away, in the name of life. That it’s for the good of the babies. It’s not true. If we really cared about the babies, we’d do something to help them once they’re born.
We’re poised to become a country where abortion is a criminal act, where women have no power over their own bodies. It’s a frightening path, and we’re hurtling down it headfirst.