Monday, September 10, 2007

The Reality for Abortion Availability

Many people believe-quite reasonably-that the availability is determined by the law on abortion, and precedential Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and now Gonzales v. Carhart. But the reality is that foes of abortion have waged an underground campaign aimed at circumventing a woman's right to have an abortion by attacking the availability of abortions in general. This article in the LA Times discusses just one example of this phenomenon:

Thousands of women have safely ended pregnancies at this clinic since it opened in 1987. Conservative lawmakers in Missouri say abortion patients deserve better.

They have enacted the most far-reaching regulations in the nation -- dictating the physical layout, staffing and record-keeping policies of any facility that performs five or more abortions a month, including private doctors' offices that regularly prescribe the abortion pill.

The law, which a federal judge is to review today, would force the immediate closure of at least two of Missouri's three abortion clinics, plus a private medical practice near St. Louis run by a doctor who offers first-trimester terminations in his office. Those facilities would need extensive renovations to comply with the law; the requirements could include widening hallways, raising ceilings, installing locker rooms, rerouting plumbing, and creating surgical suites stocked with emergency resuscitation equipment, even when no surgery is performed on-site.

"We're applying the same standards of healthcare to abortion clinics as we are to other medical facilities," said Pam Fichter, development director of Missouri Right to Life.

So ostensibly, the purpose of this bill is to make abortion safer. What it will actually do is make an abortion much more difficult to obtain. This is the bill's purpose of course, as Gov. Matt Blunt admitted when he said the bill was "one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation in Missouri history" as he was signing it in a Baptist church. As the article explains, this new strategy may prove to the means by which anti-abortion activists attack abortion in other states as well. Not that the underground campaign hasn't already done it's work; note above that Missouri has only three clinics that provide an abortion in the whole state. Three, in a state in a country where a woman is supposedly guaranteed the right to choose. Thus, a woman may choose an abortion...she just may not be able to get one.

Make no mistake, the attack on availability is the single greatest threat to the right of a woman to have an abortion in this country today, and pro-choicers are quite simply losing the battle.


adam said...

I'm always surprised that public opinion seems to be on the side of "keep abortion legal, but I think it happens too much!" No doubt this is because they simply don't know how hard it is for someone to get an abortion.

Xanthippas said...

I honestly don't think people do. I'm a pretty staunch supporter of the right to an abortion, and I didn't realize until only a couple of years ago that the anti-abortion movement has slowly strangled the right of rural woman to get an abortion. It's just lost in the glare of court decisions. Frankly, laws like this are much, much worse than laws like the one upheld in "Carhart" because it affects so many more women, and is a considerably more underhanded attack.