The Elliot Institute, a group from Springfield, Ill., filed the “Prevention of Coerced and Unsafe Abortion Act” on Nov. 6, with the intention of getting it on the ballot in November ’08 in Missouri.

The proposal would require the doctor to certify that an abortion was necessary to avert the woman’s imminent death or irreversible disability. Otherwise, the doctor would have to document that carrying the fetus to term would be more dangerous than the combination of all risks associated with abortion. Those risks could include every “psychological, emotional, demographic or situational” risk that has been found associated with abortion in any study ever published in a peer-reviewed journal. Doctors would have to determine how every such risk applied to the patient and present the patient with an evaluation of every positive and negative determination. Doctors would be vulnerable to lawsuits from women who later regretted their decision to have an abortion. The proposal states that a regretful woman could receive up to $10,000 for each risk the doctor fails to include in his determination. There would be no exception in the cases of rape or incest.

Peter Brownlie, a Planned Parenthood representative said that the proposal appears to interfere with the practice of medicine.

“It looks very clearly to be a ban on abortion, with the only exception being a threat to the life of the mother,” Brownlie said. “It’s a pretty extreme measure.”

The Missouri affiliate of NARAL issued a statement saying the proposal would place a near-total ban on abortion, and warned that if the proposal was passed, it would require a dying woman who needed an abortion to save her life to wait 48 hours before undergoing the procedure.

Although many people consider the Elliot Institue a pseudoscientific organization operating behind a thin veneer of respectability, they still see the proposal as a serious threat. Unfortunately, the will of the majority and the authority of the Constitution is not always enough to save us from a constant threat on our most basic rights. Even unconstitutional proposals must be defended against vigoursly, or someday soon we’ll be sadly surprised . . .

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