Abortion law undermines women’s reproductive rights
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 21:04
On April 12, Jan Brewer, the Republican governor of Arizona, signed into law the latest of the recent cornucopia of anti-abortion bills, the Women’s Health and Safety Act, according to an article in the Atlantic Wire.
Although the bill’s name sounds innocuous, the purpose of the law is to limit women’s ability to get an abortion in Arizona. Women in that state will now have two fewer weeks in which to get an abortion.
Many states have considered laws like Arizona’s that would limit women’s reproductive health options, waging what some call the “war on women.” Our legislatures should stop interfering in women’s personal health decisions and instead focus on ending the recession, improving public education and improving the standard of living for all citizens.
The new law in Arizona legally determines a fetus’ age from the first day of the mother’s last period—something which doctors already do—according to an article in the Huffington Post. The new official definition of the unborn child’s age, however, as reported by Arizona-based news website azcentral.com, puts Arizona’s standard ban on abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy; two weeks before that of any other state.
These two crucial weeks are when fetuses are tested for fatal diseases and other problems that could lead a woman to seek an abortion, according to the Atlantic Wire. The 18-week clause is based on the medically suspect claim that fetuses can feel pain by the 20-week mark.
This section of the law is not only based on faulty science, but it also violates Supreme Court rulings that allow states to outlaw abortions only after a fetus could theoretically survive outside the womb, an accomplishment only achievable at 20 to 22 weeks, azcentral.com reported.
Hopefully the Supreme Court will strike down the law quickly. In the meantime, however, more very unhealthy babies may be born in Arizona, placing a heavy burden on families’ and the state’s finances.
The Women’s Health and Safety Act really shows that Arizona lawmakers are more interested in imposing their values on women than on the well-being of the state’s finances and the female population.
Legally measuring the length of a pregnancy starting with the first day of a woman’s last period has sent many commentators into fevered nightmares of possible dystopian futures (with only a few modifications in the law, every 12- to 50-year-old woman could legally be considered pregnant simply because they could potentially get pregnant within two weeks!).
Measuring a pregnancy from before the pregnancy could possibly have begun will only be used in Arizona retroactively, to gauge the legal age of the fetus, so don’t get too worked up about entering a legal state of perpetual pregnancy when you visit Arizona.
The bill does, however, legitimately pose a threat to women’s ability to make decisions about their own bodies.
Surgical abortions, rather than abortions induced by taking a pill, are actually very rare, and other provisions of the bill will have a much greater impact on women’s lives.
Perhaps the most wide-reaching part of the legislation concerns the administration of non-surgical abortions, or abortion pills. Under the new law in Arizona, doctors cannot prescribe abortion pills more than 30 miles away from a facility where they have hospital privileges, effectively shutting down many abortion clinics in the state.
The bill also moves the required pre-abortion ultrasound from one hour before the operation to an entire day before and outlaws abortion pills after seven weeks rather than the standard nine, according to azcentral.com.
Arizona’s law is only the latest in a string of state laws that limit abortions and disrespect women and their right to make decisions about their own bodies and families. This bill is particularly harmful because it will keep women from ending pregnancy even after they learn that their child may die shortly after being born.
Placing limitations on abortion does not solve any problems, and it will not end unwanted pregnancies.
No one gets pregnant in order to have an abortion, but some people just find themselves in situations where they feel that they need an abortion.
This bill can only lead to a rise in unsafe, illegal abortions, thus resulting in the polar opposite of what it claims to do—protect women’s health.
Gov. Brewer said that she signed the legislation because it “safeguard[s] our most vulnerable population—the unborn,” according to the Daily Beast.
In our current state of recession, why does Arizona want to force pregnant women to carry horribly diseased babies to term, and spend more money on doctors’ and hospital bills when they can have a quick and inexpensive abortion?
The Arizona Republicans who passed this bill seem to be neither supporters of personal rights nor fiscally conservative. I personally would prefer that our legislatures focus on the many problems, like improving the economy and education, of our preexisting population and agree with former President Bill Clinton that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”
No woman wants to have an abortion, but any woman should be able to have an abortion should she need one. It must remain her right to choose.