I’m posting in segments this week because I’m running behind.
There’s a good summary on Think Progress this week about the seven states determined to shut the doors to abortion clinics and send women back to coat hangers for abortions. Those seven are Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. The Washington Post has a nifty interactive graphic that shows the spread of anti-abortion extremism. Planned Parenthood’s president believes that abortion is headed back to the Supreme Court for another round.
The Think Progress post really just scratches the surface of these states’ egregious attacks on reproductive rights, though. Alabama has taken a often-copied page from the Mississippi, Tennessee and North Dakota playbook to require lots of expensive and medically unnecessary steps, staffing, and facilities for places where abortions are provided. North Dakota, of course, now has the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, eclipsing even Neanderthal, mysogynist Arkansas, prompting at least one pro-life citizen (yes, pro-life) to push for a referendum to repeal those overly-restrictive laws. In addition to unnecessarily burdening abortion facilities with pointless requirements, Virginia wants to make abortion more expensive, but mandate that it cannot be covered by health insurance. Indiana wants abortifacient drugs to be used only under the same circumstances – and in the same surroundings – as surgical abortions. Likewise, Mississippi wants a woman to take those drugs only in the presence of a doctor. Kansas, not mentioned in Think Progress’s list, is considering the most sweeping anti-abortion bill in the nation, which will prohibit abortion based on the gender of the fetus. (Is that a thing in the US? In China, maybe, but here?) Florida, also not on the list, wants to prohibit not just sex-selection, but race selection, too. (Like the baby might turn out to be a race other than that of the parents? Seriously? Go home, Florida. You’re drunk.)
Planned Parenthood is under attack all over the country, even though abortions account for a whopping three percent of its total services. Kansas doesn’t want immoral abortion providers to participate in sex education in public schools, and is expected to pass a bill this week to prevent that. Not content with making its state the most hostile to pregnant women, North Dakota also wants Planned Parenthood and North Dakota State University out of the sex education business, at least in populations where it might matter. The Kansas House passed a bill this week to say that human life and its attendant inalienable rights begin at the moment of fertilization. Never mind that 71 percent of the organization’s services go to prevent unwanted pregnancies, which is supposedly a big chunk of what sex education is all about. The other 26% of Planned Parenthood’s services are geared to maintaining reproductive health, with is what the rest of sex education is all about.
Remember the Hobby Lobby case objecting to Obamacare? The Federal District Court said that Hobby Lobby had to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees in the health care plan because it was not a religious institution that was exempt from federal law. Citing that its owners were conscientious objectors to women having control of their own bodies, Hobby Lobby decided to pay millions of dollars in fines rather than comply with the order pending appeal. The appeal was heard, and the decision of the District Judge was upheld by a three-judge panel at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Tenth Circuit has agreed to hear the case en banc, though – which means that all of the judges of the Circuit, not just a panel, will reconsider the decision in the case. Without a single justice in dissent, the 1981 Supreme Court explained in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Religious liberty does not permit an employer to “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.” Presumably that includes the employer’s religiously-based objections to birth control.
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