So Far, 2015 Is On Pace to Set Abortion Restriction Records

by Katie Klabusich, Truthout | Report –

old pills

Laws with anti-abortion provisions are setting a new record this year, with 332 in 43 states. (Photo: Two Tablets via Shutterstock; Edited: LW / TO)

Junk science makes for catchy headlines and hashtags. Who could honestly be expected to resist highlighting phrases like “reversible abortion” when given the chance, even if such a narrow scope happens to overshadow the bigger, more important picture.

Arizona’s SB 1318 , signed into law as the legislature was closing out its session, garnered all the attention recently for requiring doctors to lie to their patients seeking medication abortion by telling them that “should they change their mind after taking the first pill of a chemical abortion, it may be possible to reverse the effects, but time is of the essence.”

It turns out, not taking the second pill – the misoprostol that follows a day or two after the dose of mifepristone – gives a patient roughly the same chance of carrying to term as the faux treatment in the Arizona law that is now firmly affixed to the state Dept of Health Services website. One sentence can confirm what most rational people hearing a phrase like “reversible abortion” already knew: It’s not real and no amount of wishing or hoping from abortion foes can make it so.

In the meantime, while everyone was pointing to the shiny, outlandish “informed consent” provision, the original and much more devastating purpose of SB 1318 – to completely eliminate insurance coverage for abortion – took effect. Insurance is just so boring, though! Except to the people who can’t afford care without it, or for the rape victim who shouldn’t have had to plan ahead to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

All these “boring” restrictions have that unspoken caveat hanging in the air, as they’re waved off with a yawn: “… except to the people who can’t afford care.”

Laws and policies that trade away people’s rights always disproportionately affect the already marginalized and underrepresented groups – i.e. the poor, people of color, LGBTQ people, youth, the undocumented, and, especially with abortion access, residents of rural areas. Using the rights of the voiceless as politically convenient bargaining chips isn’t new; this is simply a crisis moment when it comes to abortion access, and it’s being ignored for the sake of the absurd headline opportunity.

Debunking is fun – like being let in on a secret or uncovering a truth. But the current singular focus on the fantastic is obscuring an alarming reality: 2015 is setting a record pace for state-level abortion restrictions. Without eye-catching provisions that fit easily in news chyrons, this wave of “boring” provisions threatens to reduce access to full-scale reproductive health care in this country to a mere memory.

Past the Emergency Point on Provision

We shouldn’t need extraordinary circumstances or catch phrases to care about ordinary people who need access to care that could make or break the trajectory of their lives. When only 12 percent of counties even have a provider, we are past the emergency point where every single restrictive law costs people their right to bodily autonomy. And the restrictive laws keep coming.

According to the reproductive health researchers at Guttmacher Institute, 332 anti-abortion provisions were introduced in 43 states just in the first quarter of this year. One of the most alarming trends is the deliberate grouping of certain laws targeting abortion providers, or TRAP laws, which combine to create a burden of urgency for patients.

From Guttmacher’s state trends report :

“Many of the new abortion restrictions enacted this year would either limit the use of medication abortion (Arkansas and Idaho) or ban abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization (West Virginia), a disturbing combination of attempts to curtail access in both the early and later months of pregnancy, potentially leaving women with fewer options and a greatly reduced time frame to get the care they need.”



Reprinted with permission from Truthout