Monday, June 24, 2013

Everything's bigger in Texas, especially the fetuses!

Most people who closely follow reproductive rights in the news are already aware of the shenanigans that happened last week in the US House of Representatives, with the passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. While it is disappointing that it passed the House of Representatives, and that so many Republicans were willing to toe the party line in order to appease their ultra conservative constituents, this particular bill doesn't keep me up at night. Because I know that we (pro-choicers) have a firewall in the majority pro-choice US Senate and in our pro-choice President, Barack Obama.

As has been true since 2011, the true threats to reproductive freedom are happening in state legislatures. Last year, Virginia was the butt of many jokes for their proposed law which aimed to force women seeking abortion to undergo an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound, whether their doctor felt it was necessary or not. But Virginia certainly wasn't the first (or the last) state to enact mandatory ultrasound legislation. This year, 2013, seems to be the year of the 20-week ban. Many states have passed it, and many others have tried and failed. Why a 20-week ban? Because you're not truly dedicated to the pro-life cause unless you are in favor of taking away the right from those 2% who are experiencing devastating crisis pregnancies--pregnancies with severe fetal anomalies, maternal health complications, and women whose bodies betrayed them by hiding their pregnant status until it was almost too late to do anything about it. Yes, those are the women who should be burned at the stake. The women who make the heartbreaking decision to end a much-wanted pregnancy in order to AVOID their precious babies from suffering from any pain at birth. The women who make the tortured decision to end a pregnancy they have bonded with in order to remain alive and present for their other children. And the women who for whatever reason didn't realize they were pregnant sooner, but still have the right to autonomously decide what is best for themselves.

Texas, the supposed "Big baby abortion mecca of the south," is the latest state to enlist trickery and sneaky manipulations of legislative rules to enact their restrictions on abortion. First, the Governor called a special 30-day session, normally utilized only for emergency legislation, and instructed republicans to introduce anti-choice legislation for passage. The new legislation included a 20-week ban, restrictions on the administration of medication abortion, new regulations on abortion clinics that would require them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and a requirement that doctors who work in abortion clinics have admitting privileges in a local hospital.
All of these proposals are included in Senate Bill 5, which passed through the House despite a citizen filibuster and recent polls which show that 80% of Texans disapprove of the legislature taking up anti-abortion legislation in a special session.

SB5 will be heard by 11 AM tomorrow morning in the Senate, and the only chance for avoiding passage of the bill is if Senate democrats can delay the vote on the bill (filibuster!)and the 30-day session expires. Fingers crossed that happens. If not, my only hope is that Texans remember these unnecessary and intrusive restrictions on personal liberty the next time they go to the polls. Elections matter.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2013

Several federal legislators have banded together and sponsored HR 1797. This bill was originally targeted at only D.C. residents, but was amended to be a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks gestation.

This bill fails to show any compassion or consideration for families who find out near or after 20 weeks that their unborn baby has an anomaly. It is standard obstetrical practice to perform a fetal anatomy scan at 20 weeks gestation. Before that time, it can be difficult for doctors and ultrasound technicians to be able to clearly visualize fetal anatomy in order to make a diagnosis. Also, many anomalies (chromosomal or not) require follow-up testing in order to make a definite diagnosis, which can take several weeks to complete. Putting a ban on abortion at 20 weeks will force many families to either, A) Carry a pregnancy to term with a serious anomaly, resulting in large financial, physical, and emotional hardship, or B) force families to abandon additional diagnostic testing and interrupt pregnancies before they know for sure how serious their baby's condition may be.

Supporters of this bill point to the horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell and the substandard care he provided to low-income women in his clinic in Philadelphia as a reason for this ban. Dr. Gosnell took advantage of low-income women who felt they had no where else to go to obtain later abortion care. Those women didn't end up in Dr. Gosnell's clinic because of lax abortion laws. They ended up there because, A) other abortion providers in their area were charging much more than they could afford, B) other abortion providers in the area were not willing to perform procedures due to the advanced gestational age, or C) the women were tricked into believing that the care they'd receive safe and appropriate care at Gosnell's clinic.

What happened at Gosnell's clinic was horrific, unsafe, and unacceptable. He put women's lives and health in serious danger, and he did not show compassion to the moms or the unborn babies who ended up in his clinic. His clinic does not represent the vast majority of clinics (and abortion providers working out of hospitals) which provide safe, quality abortion care in sanitary environments with an infinitely low risk of complications.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will not prevent doctors like Gosnell from subverting the law or ignoring accepted medical practices. But it will make it more difficult for women to obtain the abortion care they need post-20 weeks gestation. If doctors in good-standing who follow the law and accepted medical practices are not allowed to provide abortions post-20 weeks, where do you think the women who get poor prenatal diagnoses after 20 weeks will go for abortion care? Birth defects and chromosomal anomalies will not stop occurring, and women will not cease to believe that interrupting a doomed pregnancy is their best option. This law will create a niche for doctors like Gosnell who are willing to ignore the law in order to provide later abortion care. This law will create more harm, and more pain to families, not less.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

It's been a crazy year since I last updated here.

I apologize for the delay in updating this blog. I'm not even sure where to start. So many state legislatures around the U.S. have been passing (or attempting to pass) legislation which will most directly affect those who terminate for medical reasons. These new laws will chip away at abortion rights by imposing gestational limits of 12 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period (Arkansas) or as early as 6 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period (North Dakota). I'm sure the ultimate goal of these laws is not to tie the hands of women who find themselves facing a fetal anomaly, but to get a case before the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be re-assessed and possibly overturned. Fortunately, some people have stepped forward with stories of having to terminate a pregnancy past these new limits, and the impact not having had that choice would have had on their family. In the coming days I will try to catch up and post some of their stories here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another brave mom shares her story.

In response to the barrage of anti-choice legislation that has come out of state legislatures this year, more and more women are stepping forward and sharing their very painful stories of interrupting pregnancies due to fetal anomalies. And here is another courageous woman warrior willing to share her story for the greater good.

I don't understand how anyone can read a story like this one, and then support legislation which will take this choice away from parents. So much for personal liberty and a right to privacy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Different year, but the same story.

My apologies for taking almost a year to update this blog. But with state legislators only actually working a few months a year (lucky dogs), not a whole lot happens in the summer and fall.

So here we are, 2012, and just like last year, legislatures around the U.S. are introducing beaucoup anti-choice measures. My home state of Virginia is no exception.

So far, there have been 8 or so anti-choice bills introduced in Virginia. There are those that require mandatory ultrasounds before an abortion, a bill that gives personhood status to fertilized eggs (thus banning all abortion and some forms of birth control), a bill banning abortion at or after 20 weeks gestation (except in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother), a bill to repeal the state's Medicaid funding for low-income women who experience a pregnancy with a fetal anomaly, and a bill to ban insurance companies participating in the yet-to-be-formed insurance exchange from covering abortion.

You can read more about the nationwide war on reproductive rights here.

Each and every one of these proposed laws is heartless, cruel, and completely unneccesary. Will any of these bills create jobs? Will any of them help to pull the lower and middle-class families out of their financial difficulties? Will any of these bills help with the housing crisis?? No, no, and NO!!

I urge everyone reading this to contact your state legislators and urge them to focus their efforts on issues that really impact their constituents--jobs, housing, the economy, etc. These right-wing attacks on women's reproductive health are merely a distraction. These legislators don't have an answer for how to help the jobless and those struggling financially, so they are instead focusing on something they think they CAN control--women's bodies. And they are using propaganda like television ads during the Superbowl to try to gain momentum and support.

If you are pro-choice, please get involved. Exercise your right as a citizen and let your voice be heard. E-mail or call your legislators and let them know that you are pro-choice and you vote.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Speaking out against "late term abortion" bans

Several state legislatures held hearings this week concerning proposed bans on abortions after 20 weeks.

In Minnesota, Alicia Hemple shared her story of terminating her much-wanted pregnancy due to a diagnosis of Trisomy 18.

In Kansas, Tiffany Campbell shared her agonizing decision to terminate one twin due to Twin-to-Twin transfusion syndrome.

In Washington, D.C. last month at two separate press conferences with pro-choice legislators, two women courageously shared their stories of interrupting planned and wanted pregnancies due to severe fetal anomalies. Dana Weinstein shared the story of her baby girl who was diagnosed in utero with agenesis of the corpus callosum and polymicrogyria. Mary Vargas tearfully shared her story of interrupting her pregnancy of her baby boy due to Potters syndrome.

All of these women deserve to be commended for bravely sharing their personal and heartbreaking stories to fight against anti-choice attacks. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to share such a personal and painful story in front of a group of strangers, not to mention lawmakers. But in the end, the more women who speak out and share these controversial decisions, the less stigma society will place on them, and the more those anti-choice politicians will know that we won't lie down and roll over while they strip us of our rights.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The people 20-week abortion bans really impact

Danielle and Robb Deaver of Grand Island, Nebraska shared their story of being legally prevented from terminating their pregnancy with their baby who wasn't expected to survive due to underdeveloped lungs. After Danielle's water broke at 22 weeks, she was unable to replenish and sustain her amniotic fluid. Danielle and her husband then asked her physician if she could terminate the pregnancy--both to preserve her own health (by avoiding the risk of infection) and to prevent their unborn baby girl from suffering at birth due to the lack of fluid. Read the rest of their heartbreaking story here.