June 19, 2005

...CHIP....CHIP....CHIP....:

Efforts to curb abortion proliferate at state level: Abortion foes try to chip away at Roe v. Wade, most recently through laws focusing on 'personhood' of a fetus. (Amanda Paulson, 6/13/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

"We've seen more bills [related to abortion] enacted in the first five months of this year [16] than in all of last year," says Elizabeth Nash, state monitor for the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights policy group. "It's hard to measure the impact. But every time we get one of these laws, we say it's just another way to chip away at Roe."

Among the recent efforts:

• Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law last week that requires minors wanting an abortion to get written parental consent (as opposed to parental notification, which was previously required). It also bans a woman from getting an abortion after 26 weeks of pregnancy, unless her life is threatened or the fetus is brain damaged.

• Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently signed legislation giving the state increased oversight of clinics that offer second-trimester abortions. While Governor Bush and others have stressed that it is only intended to ensure safety and quality care at clinics, abortion-rights groups see it as singling out facilities in hopes of closing them.

• A Georgia law approved last month requires a 24-hour waiting period and parental notification for minors. More unusual, it specifies that the doctor must inform the woman of the fetus's age, alternatives to abortion, and the likelihood that the fetus will feel pain during the abortion.

• In a similar focus on the fetus, Indiana now requires abortion doctors to notify patients that they can see an ultrasound image and listen to the fetus's heartbeat. The Michigan House recently passed a bill that requires an ultrasound be done before every abortion. [...]

[Peggy Romberg, CEO of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas,] says, "we see the erosion bit by bit.... I think the assaults have an overall effect I find disheartening."

Even abortion opponents admit that some of the restrictions have little real effect. But they still see them as important in keeping the issue public, establishing legal precedents that acknowledge a fetus as an individual, and raising awareness of the fetus's personhood for Americans who may be undecided about abortion.

"Even in cases where it may be more symbolic or less effectual in saving lives of unborn children, we have to recognize it has an effect in public relations and helping people to think these things through," says David Bereit, a program director for the American Life League.

Mr. Bereit acknowledges a flip side as well: Incremental gains - like parental consent - could jeopardize the long-term goal of outlawing all abortions. "If abortion is wrong and truly kills an unborn child, it shouldn't matter if a parent says yes or no," he says. "Could it give more legitimacy to abortion in the eyes of the law?"

One tactic gaining popularity is "informed consent" - laws that require abortion seekers to be notified about pain the fetus may experience and medical and psychological risks to the mother. Some tell doctors to cite an increased risk of breast cancer, even though most doctors say no such risk exists. Planned Parenthood recently filed suit against a South Dakota law that requires women to sign a statement saying, among other things, that the abortion will terminate the life of a "whole, separate, unique, living human being."

Critics of these laws aimed at getting women to think of the fetus as an individual - the latest of which is the ultrasound requirement - believe this amounts to legislating what should be the realm of medicine. "It's putting politicians' beliefs into a doctor's office," says Ted Miller, a spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice America. "These proposals are coming from people very hostile to individual privacy."

Abortion opponents counter that anything that gets women - and the law - to recognize a fetus as a person is a step in the right direction.


Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2005 6:45 AM
Comments

The right-to-life people have simply taken a page from the victory book of the RKBA people. i.e. the NRA. You don't hear much about Right to Keep and Bear Arms issues, inasmuch as the other side has finally learned that this issue is a dead-bang loser for them. What you especially don't hear is that, state-by-state, a right-to-carry revolution has been taking place.

This has taken the form of various "shall-issue" concealed carry laws requireing issuing authorities to issue carry papers to qualified applicants without descretion. It is good to see that right-to-life understands that if you want to learn how to win, just watch the NRA.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 19, 2005 10:56 AM

The right-to-life people have simply taken a page from the victory book of the RKBA people. i.e. the NRA. You don't hear much about Right to Keep and Bear Arms issues, inasmuch as the other side has finally learned that this issue is a dead-bang loser for them. What you especially don't hear is that, state-by-state, a right-to-carry revolution has been taking place.

This has taken the form of various "shall-issue" concealed carry laws requireing issuing authorities to issue carry papers to qualified applicants without descretion. It is good to see that right-to-life understands that if you want to learn how to win, just watch the NRA.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 19, 2005 11:02 AM
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