Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war ...
Let's begin in the Sunshine state of Florida where Southern Baptist theologian, father of eight and Republican rep Charles E. Van Zant proposes all citizens, especially of the wombanly persuasion, share his upright way of thinking.
Here's his way of thinking though: Rather than punish the maternal units, go after the doctors who perform the evil abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.
An expansive measure to make most abortions illegal in Florida has been filed for the 2010 Legislative session, challenging federal protections in place for more than 40 years.
Both anti-abortion advocates and abortion rights supporters agree the 53-page proposal is an attempt to directly challenge the 40-year-old Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions in the United States in 1973.
“The Legislature finds that there have been 50 million abortions in the United States since the Roe decision,” the bill reads. “ The Legislature further finds that every life lost to abortion was sacred and of the highest value.”
Sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, HB 1097 would criminalize most abortions now allowed under state and federal law, increase penalties for physicians who perform such services and require pregnant women to receive more information on adoption. The bill was filed Wednesday, the same day that right to life groups made the trek to Tallahassee to meet lawmakers and rally support.
Except in cases where a woman’s life is considered in danger, doctors who perform abortions would face first degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison and civil fines.
Now, it's doubtful this bill will get very far. But you can bet Van Zant will have back-up in the House. And, if they don't succeed this time, they'll try another way to crack this.
By the way: You'll find the comments over at Feministing rather amusing.
Now to Oklahoma where a particularly invasive law was declared unconstitutional -- but only on a technicality.
On Friday an Oklahoma judge declared a controversial law unconstitutional that would have enacted a host of new abortion regulations, including one mandating that detailed demographic and personal information about women seeking abortions be posted online. Though pro-choice activists are applauding the decision, it was not indicative of a dismissal of the regulations themselves. Instead, the judge knocked down the law due to the fact that it violated Oklahoma’s "single-subject" rule, which states that each law can only cover one subject.
The law, which was initially scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1, 2009, would have required a woman seeking an abortion to fill out a 10-page questionnaire asking everything from her age and marital status to the date of the abortion to the county in which it took place. That information would then be posted on the state’s Department of Health website. Proponents of the law say that names would not have accompanied the statistics. But opponents say the law was a scare tactic that infringed on women’s privacy, and that people in small towns in Oklahoma could easily draw conclusions about identities from even seemingly anonymous information.
Undaunted, the forced birthers are back at the drawing board, drafting, count 'em, four new laws that will get around the technicality.
In other action, the panel passed four separate abortion measures that previously had been declared unconstitutional because they had been combined in one bill.
Bills must deal with only one subject.
The panel passed HB 3290 by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow. It would require a doctor to be in the room when the abortion pill RU486 is administered.
The panel also passed HB 2780 by Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, which would require women who seek an abortion to have an ultrasound and have its contents explained to them.
Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole, said the Legislature should focus on preventing unintended pregnancies rather than bringing further disgrace and shame to women facing the most difficult decision of their lives.
Billy responded: “This bill is about choice for women. It is an opportunity for her to understand what is growing inside of her and the consequences.”
The panel passed HB 3110 by Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, which would allow health-care providers who object to abortion not to participate in the procedure.
Peterson’s other abortion bill, HB 3284, also passed.
It would require women who seek abortions to provide a host of information about themselves to be posted on a public Web site.
As if there aren't bigger things to worry about in Oklahoma -- like how one in five actual children live in poverty.
A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor's signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, and make induced abortion a crime in some instances.
According Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, what makes Utah's proposed law unique is that it is specifically designed to be punitive toward pregnant women, not those who might assist or cause an illegal abortion or unintended miscarriage.
The bill passed by legislators amends Utah's criminal statute to allow the state to charge a woman with criminal homicide for inducing a miscarriage or obtaining an illegal abortion. The basis for the law was a recent case in which a 17-year-old girl, who was seven months pregnant, paid a man $150 to beat her in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. Although the girl gave birth to a baby later given up for adoption, she was initially charged with attempted murder. However the charges were dropped because, at the time, under Utah state law a woman could not be prosecuted for attempting to arrange an abortion, lawful or unlawful.
The bill passed by the Utah legislature would change that. While the bill does not affect legally obtained abortions, it criminalizes any actions taken by women to induce a miscarriage or abortion outside of a doctor's care, with penalties including up to life in prison.
Never mind how desperate that 17 year old girl must have been to pay somebody to beat her up. (Can you imagine?) Might it be a coincidence that there are no abortion providers in 93 per cent of Utah's counties?
In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by "reckless" behavior.
Using the legal standard of "reckless behavior" all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn't intend to lose the pregnancy. Drink too much alcohol and have a miscarriage? Under the new law such actions could be cause for prosecution.
"This creates a law that makes any pregnant woman who has a miscarriage potentially criminally liable for murder," says Missy Bird, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Utah. Bird says there are no exemptions in the bill for victims of domestic violence or for those who are substance abusers. The standard is so broad, Bird says, "there nothing in the bill to exempt a woman for not wearing her seatbelt who got into a car accident."
Such a standard could even make falling down stairs a prosecutable event, such as the recent case in Iowa where a pregnant woman who fell down the stairs at her home was arrested under the suspicion she was trying to terminate her pregnancy.
Because, Lady, when you're preggers your body is nationalized by the state.
Take Kenya. For 20 years, Kenyans have been working fitfully to revise their constitution and are now mere weeks away from possibly finalizing the document. But this milestone in the nation's slow move towards real democracy may be marred by another human rights calamity. If the constitution is approved in its current form by the Kenyan Parliament sometime this year, Kenya will join the inglorious ranks of three nations -- Northern Mariana Islands, Uganda, and Zambia -- that have prohibited abortion within their constitution.
The most recent draft of the constitution had solid human rights protections for women. However, a review by a parliamentary commission resulted in the evisceration of many of the core democratic constitutional provisions. This included amending Article 25, which in its original language guaranteed that "Every individual has the right to life" (emphasis added).
The wording choice for Article 25 is hardly revolutionary. In fact, it reflects the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is consistent with the majority of national constitutions in the world. But conservative religious groups are not partial to international legal precedence and many lobbied Kenyan parliamentarians to amend Article 25. Which they did, and then some.
Article 25 still protects life, but life is now defined as beginning at conception. Moreover, Article 25 also outlaws abortion. Phrases in the draft guaranteeing the right to healthcare, including reproductive health care, and that no one may be refused emergency medical treatment (say, for an unsafe abortion) were also eliminated from the draft text.
A pregnant 27-year old Nicaraguan woman, "Amelia," with metastatic cancer has been denied medical treatment on the grounds that it might harm her baby.
Nicaragua passed a draconian anti-abortion law in 2008 which criminalizes abortion even in the case of rape or incest or when the mother's life is in danger. Nicaraguan doctors are prohibited from treating pregnant women with cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria and cardiac diseases, and threatened with prison sentences for providing health services or information related to abortion.
Amelia has effectively been handed a death sentence by her government. Each day she is denied treatment, she edges closer to death; in a tragic irony, she will most likely die before the baby is even born. Her 10-year old daughter will be left without a mother, since the Nicaraguan government values the life of an unborn fetus over that of a mother.
And doesn't that just put the ''life'' in ''pro-life?'' (And if you want to do something to help, please go here.)
Jump to Dammit Janet! where Fern reminds us that this is what PM Stephen Harper and his theocratic vision of maternal healthcare looks like.
... it's not just the preventable deaths of these women, but the bloody suffering they go through. And their families. And their soon-to-be-orphaned children.
Yet this is the kind of no-family-planning, no-contraception, no-abortion, misogynist healthcare Steve is promoting.
Here's an excerpt of Angie's guest post over at The Friendly Atheist:
Prior to conceiving my son five years ago, I was told I would never carry a child to term because of sexual abuse that happened when I was 7- and 8-years-old — and I barely did. I didn’t find out I was pregnant with him until the 21st week, roughly halfway through my pregnancy. When I did find out, I was underweight for the duration of the pregnancy, and I had several other high risk indicators. I did my best to gain weight (it helped that my ex-husband worked at a pizza store).
Even still, I made several trips to the emergency room throughout my last two trimesters. During my eighth month of pregnancy, I actually lost ten pounds due to a pretty horrible stomach virus. It was as if I had no immune system at all while pregnant. I went from having never received IV fluids in my life, to being intimately familiar with the feeling of cold fluids dumping into my veins. And let’s not even get into the other causes of dehydration.
When my son was born, I decided I didn’t want any more kids, in part because I’d learned during my pregnancy that I was a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal and painful disease (of which my son was fortunately spared). I don’t regret that decision. My son is happiest when he’s getting one-on-one attention from an adult — he has even manipulated the system at school so that he gets to hang out with his teacher while she eats lunch and the other kids nap! I honestly don’t believe siblings are always a blessing, always friends, or always best for a family.
I know that I can be a damn good mom to the one special needs child I have — he had many health problems when he was younger and he is speech delayed and has a short attention span now — but I don’t know if I could be a good mom to two kids, one or both of whom would have special needs. I know my mom had more children than she could afford or care for, and I don’t want to make the same mistake.
Now, considering all that, I think Angie is entitled to make her own decisions about her own health and well-being, as well as those of her son. But you can be sure that there are millions of people who believe that they have the right to colonize her body.
Reproductive rights are human rights.
End of stories.