My head has been spinning lately as I try to keep up with all of the anti-abortion legislation that has flying back and forth in various state legislatures. For example, at this point fourteen states have trotted out measures to ban abortion prior to “viability” — the point at which a fetus could survive outside the uterus. These measures take three forms: banning all abortions, banning abortions at some point in the first trimester of pregnancy and banning abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization.
In addition, there are bills preventing employees of abortion clinics from providing sex education in schools, banning tax credits for abortion services and requiring clinics to give details to women about fetal development and abortion health risks. There’s also a ban on abortion based solely on the gender of the fetus.
The most interesting law to me is the one in North Dakota which prohibits abortions from being performed after six weeks. Think about that one for a second. Hell, how many women even know they are pregnant after six weeks? And, I am not a doctor but I seem to recall that some abortion clinics would not perform an abortion that early for fear that they might not get all of the tissue.
The pro-choice movement has a right to be very concerned about this trend in the state legislatures. The anti-abortion movement is feeling their oats and they are clearly consulting with each other, photocopying the bills that passed in other states and pushing it in theirs. And in many of those states, they’ve got the majorities so there ain’t much that we can do about it (except fundraise).
There is hope, however. And it comes from the offices of the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom project.
For 20 years, the Center for Reproductive Rights has used the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill. They are an aggressive bunch of lawyers who are usually the first to jump in when some whacky anti-abortion bill is signed into law. Within 24 hours, they are at the court filing for an injunction in an effort to prohibit the law from taking effect.
The ACLU believes that the decision whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term is essential to women’s equality, autonomy, and dignity, with implications for every aspect of her life – her educational aspirations, career goals, economic status, and, more broadly, her ability to live the life she planned. Like the Center, the ACLU’s cadre of attorneys is working on a myriad of issues related to abortion.
Make no mistake about it, folks. The action is now swinging to the courts. Most of the legislatures have done their dirty work for this year and these two groups will now challenge most of those laws as they have been doing for many years.
But I would be remiss if I did not mention that the work these groups perform costs money. Lots of money. Heck, didn’t you see “Erin Brockovich?” Remember how much that case cost? Well, these two groups face the same daunting task. They go into these cases and spend a lot of money with no guarantee that they’ll win and/or get attorneys fees at the end. And if anyone thinks that the abortion clinics have that kind of money to fight these laws, think again.
So, if you are thinking of sending a dollar to some pro-choice group, you might think about these two organizations because, until we can change the legislatures in some of these ass-backwards states, the only defense we have against these attacks is in the courts.
- Legal battle shaping up to stop Ark., N.D. abortion restrictions (wvgazette.com)