Legislation Watch 2011 - What's Going on in Your State?

By Rachel Walden — January 10, 2011

Not surprisingly, bills to roll back reproductive rights and defund related services are already being introduced in the now-more-Republican House of Representative and in state congresses. Via the Women’s Health Policy Alert, we learned that U.S. Representative Mike Pence has introduced the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act” (HR 217) to “to prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions.”

In other words, clinics such as those run by Planned Parenthood (Pence’s stated target) should not receive any Title X funding in order to provide contraception, reproductive cancer screening, pregnancy testing, STI treatment, and other family planning services to low income people because they also perform abortions, although existing restrictions already prevent these clinics from using Title X money to perform abortions. The bill has more than 120 cosponsors in the House.

At the state level, last week Kentucky’s Senate passed SB9, a bill that requires women to submit to an ultrasound before they can be allowed to have an abortion, and that providers describe in detail what is seen while displaying the images so each woman can see them. The proposed bill allows for a woman to “avert her eyes” and makes some exceptions for medical emergencies, but makes receiving the ultrasound a requirement with no consideration as to whether it is deemed medically necessary by the provider or is acceptable to individual women (keeping in mind that early ultrasounds are typically transvaginal).

This piece of legislation, and others like it, seem to assume that the many women who seek abortions simply don’t know what they’re doing and should therefore be subjected to additional, non-medical requirements as the discretion of legislators rather than at the discretion of women and their providers. The bill’s sponsor makes this “women just don’t know what they’re doing” message explicitly clear, calling it “another step to assure the woman is fully informed about the implications of her decision” and labeling it an “informed consent” provision. Similar bills have been defeated in past years in the state, so it is not yet clear whether it will move beyond this stage.

Please let us know in the comments what bills affecting reproductive choice and justice have been introduced in your state.

8 responses to “Legislation Watch 2011 – What’s Going on in Your State?”

  1. How come when it comes to birth we are all about INFORMED consent. But when it comes to abortion we don’t feel the need to tell the woman the truth?

    Even though I’ve thought long and hard about a home birth my midwife will obviously go over everything with me before it happens, so SHE knows I’m prepared. But when woman walk into an abortion clinic they are lied to about what’s going on inside their bodies.

    Abortion is not about empowering women, all it does is bring women down.

  2. Abortion clinics already have a counseling process in place and an obligation to make sure women are voluntarily choosing the procedures in an informed way, but this type of legislation goes beyond informed consent to both a) assume women are only choosing abortion because they don’t know what a pregnancy is; I tend to believe they do, and that’s why they’re at the abortion clinic in the first place, and b) require an additional medical event regardless of medical need and actually without the ability of the woman to make an informed choice as to whether to have the ultrasound if it is not medically necessary. Abortion clinics *already* “go over everything” with women; *requiring* ultrasound is not necessary to do that, it’s simply another barrier between a woman her legal choice.

  3. The “counseling” at most abortion clinics is a joke. All abortion “counselers” do is sell the woman an abortion. They very rarely let woman know that they have other options besides abortion. And they train the counselers and abortion workers to lie about fetal development and to make sure they don’t say anything to make the woman feel a connection with her baby. You can say they do this to try and make the “choice” easier for the woman, But their real motive is money, abortion makes money. As soon as you walk in the door at an abortion clinic their objective is to sell you an abortion, regardless of whether the “choice” is right for you. They’ll make sure you feel it’s the right choice because that’s how they make money.

  4. Tara, why do you think that abortion clinics lie to women? Why do you think women don’t already know what abortion is? You seem to object to the fact that some women can and do freely choose to have a growing fetus removed from their uterus. You think if they see an ultrasound, that is going to change their mind, but believe me, women who really don’t want to be pregnant REALLY don’t want to be pregnant. What abortion clinics don’t do is harass, harangue or try to scare women, most of whom have already decided they want and need an abortion. That’s what bothers you, isn’t it? That abortion clinics don’t try to guilt women out of making the decision to abort?

  5. What bothers me about abortion clinics is that they kill innocent babies. Tell my why a fetus shouldn’t have the right to live? Should women also have the right to kill their babies who are already born?

  6. If woman who don’t want to be pregnant Just don’t want to be pregnant no matter what and you beleive that, why are you threatened by the legislation that will make woman see ultrasounds first? And FYI making woman see their child before they decide to kill it isn’t harassment. And Abortion clinics DO scare woman, they make them think that having a baby will ruin their lives and abortion is the only option they have.

  7. Tara, trust me, this is well-worn territory, “pro-choice 101” stuff you’re raising here. There is a wealth of writing online about the different reasons different people have for supporting women’s rights to safe, legal abortion. If you’re genuinely interested, posts around the web on any of recent years’ “blog for choice” days might be a good place to start. There is likewise plenty of writing on why forced ultrasounds are problematic, so it’s probably unnecessary to rehash it all here. Rest assured that I and many readers disagree with you about the proposed law for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the assumptions it rests on, the lack of medical necessity, the lack of ability to actually have informed consent for a forced procedure, and the intent to simply but another state barrier between women and their very personal choices.

  8. Tara, just out of curiosity, how many times have you found yourself in a situation where you had an unplanned pregnancy. Better yet, how many times have you been inside an abortion clinic and through their counseling? I ask these questions because until you have been in theses situations i’m not sure you can speak accurately on what goes on during the process.

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