Many bills recently proposed simply go way too far when it comes to women’s rights and decisions. I think the people (mostly men) who are writing these bills often forget bills limiting women’s rights and options when it comes to their bodies are not “abortion crusaders” but restricting access and forcing a completely unfair narrative on people without knowing a single thing about their circumstance. I truly believe it is not my place, an acquaintance’s place, our congressman’s place or anyone in the government’s place to tell you what you can do with your body and to make you feel any other thing besides compassion. New bills proposed in states like Texas, Indiana and Florida are the definition of unawareness, offense and cruelty.
What are these bills?
Last July Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission proposed a new bill requiring burial or cremation after an abortion extending them to miscarriages, or “spontaneous abortions,” occurring in a hospital or doctor’s office. What is a spontaneous abortion you ask? It is any pregnancy that is not viable (the fetus cannot survive) or in which the fetus is born before the 20th week of pregnancy aka not on purpose, it’s “spontaneous”. Spontaneous abortion occurs in at least 15-20% of all recognized pregnancies and chromosomal abnormalities cause at least half of them. The bill also makes D&E abortions illegal, read this blog for more information. Although this bill was opposed by many interest groups, the state adopted the rules last November. They were blocked from being enforced due to a suit filed by abortion rights groups. This proposal came just seven days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Texas’ 2013 abortion restrictions (HB2) place an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion (given via Roe v Wade).
Indiana’s bill, known as HEA 1337, was also found unconstitutional and blocked by a judge this past year. Current Vice President, Mike Pence, strongly advocated for and signed this into law. This bill aimed to bar doctors from performing abortions for women who are seeking them “solely because of: (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” Other aspects of this bill included requiring women travel to a clinic for an ultrasound that involves listening to the fetus’s heartbeat, then travel back for the abortion after an 18-hour waiting period and finally pay for the cremation or interment of the aborted fetus.
This year, Arkansas, Rhode Island, Oregon, Illinois, Missouri have proposed bills to ban sex and/or race and/or disability selective abortions. Physicians will have to ask women for their reason for seeking an abortion and will have to document in their report “they did not have any knowledge that woman sought the abortion solely” for one of those reasons.
More bills on Race, Sex, Disability and How They Tie into Abortion
This Arkansas bill requires physicians to ask women if they know the sex of the baby before doing anything, if they do know the sex of the baby they need “inform the pregnant patient of the prohibition of abortion as a method of sex selection for children” and “request the medical records of the pregnant patient relating directly to the entire pregnancy history of the patient.” It also requires physicians to spend “reasonable time and effort” in obtaining the records and ensuring this is not why a women wants an abortion.
Then come in the bills that state women are not allowed to terminate pregnancies due to fetal abnormalities, even in cases where the fetus has a condition that is incompatible with life and will die before or soon after birth (a lethal fetal anomaly).
TX SB25, known as the “wrongful births” bill, would protect physicians from legal retribution in cases where they withhold information about fetal abnormalities if the physician believes that, if given the information, the patient would consider terminating the pregnancy. Senator Brandon Creighton, who sponsored the measure, stated “it is unacceptable that doctors can be penalized for embracing the sanctity of life.” This bill would allow physicians to keep important information from couples if they disagree with abortion, effectively making that decision for them.
TX SB1427 attempted to ensure women who receive a diagnosis of a life-threatening disability have information about perinatal hospice providers and other information to make a “fully informed decision” prior to an abortion. This bill not only barred sex and race discrimination, but states “a person my not knowingly perform or attempt to perform an abortion based on the probability of having or diagnosis of Down syndrome, or probability of having or diagnosis of a disability of the woman’s unborn child”. The penalty of a Class A misdemeanor would be put on the physician.
In Illinois, their bill would make the women certify they were informed about the perinatal hospice 18 hours before an abortion is performed. Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan and Kansas also have bills about “medically challenging” pregnancies and perinatal hospice.
Healthcare providers who preform abortions without knowing that women are not seeking them for these reasons are open to criminal penalties, misdemeanors, civil suits, license would be subject to suspension or revocation.
What are these?! I’ve Never Heard of Them Before..
That’s because there is not data to back it up. In a few countries around the world, there are gender bias and laws pertaining to the number and sex of a child and some people do partake in a “sex-selective” abortion. In the United States, however, there is limited, inconclusive evidence that citizens or immigrants from these areas are obtaining sex-selective abortions in the states. The sex ratio in the US is “statistically average” 105 males to every 100 females, showing there is no gender bias in the pregnancies.
Banning abortions based on race brings into the fold issues of race surrounding access to contraception and imposing another unfair narrative. Targeting minority groups through this implies these women are getting an abortion minority women to racially discriminating against their own fetuses. This is another tool pro-lifers use saying that the rate of abortion is higher amongst minorities because providers are targeting them, which is simply not the case. These practices stigmatize women from other cultures or who are minorities and require all women to state their reason for seeking an abortion which is an unfair, intrusive burden.
Here is a map of all the bills having to do with sex and race selective abortions proposed over the last six years, despite evidence of them occurring is almost none.
Bills that attempt to shame women for doing what they believe is right for themselves and their fetus have to stop. Requiring people to cremate or burry a miscarried or aborted baby is so beyond cruel I cannot even fathom it. The rest of these bills work to systemically shame women for the decision they are making. Requiring women to prove they do not want to terminate a pregnancy due to discrimination is ignorance of the world women live in, in its simplest form. If your child has a serious disability, it is up to you and your partner to make the decision- not for your physician to keep information from you based off of their values. These bills worry me for the future of women and the tendency for men writing these bills to have absolutely no information, experience or context for what it is to be a women, nevertheless one who is pregnant in 2017.