Ohio’s Talking Fetus Moves to Michigan, Requests Tax Credit

Just in case there was any doubt that the more accurate term for the anti-abortion movement is “pro-fetus,” lawmakers in Michigan recently held hearings on two bills that would grant tax exemptions for a fetus that is over twelve weeks’ gestation.

House Bills 5684 and 5685 were sponsored by Republican Reps. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (not making that name up!) and Jud Gilbert II, respectively. Lyons has served on the board of directors of a crisis pregnancy center; on that CPC’s website are a slew of misleading statements about the risks of abortion as well as incorrect information about fetal development.

This proposed legislation is particularly galling given that last year, the state cut tax credits for children—341,000 of whom, according to Think Progress, “live in high-poverty areas.”

So, just to recap: fetuses deserve tax breaks, but actual children—those that exist independently and require food and shelter—do not.  Pro-life?  Not if you’re actually alive.  Michigan’s state legislature is heavily Republican, but many of these Republicans represent moderate and pro-choice constituencies, so if you live in Michigan, please call or write your state Rep and tell them to vote against these pro-fetus, anti-child bills!

William Saletan, George Carlin, and the Decency of Chickens

Image provided courtesy of birdclipart.com

William Saletan recently took on the topic of fetal development and abortion over at Slate. In “Abortion Forever?” he argued that fetal development matters, particularly in the (very rare, he admits) cases of late-term abortion. The differences between an eight-week and a 28-week fetus matter, he says, because “the capacities that make a newborn more significant than a zygote—cognition, interaction, viability—don’t materialize overnight. They develop over many weeks. At some point, they make abortion too much like infanticide.”

Saletan continues this line of reasoning by pointing out that neural development continues for the first three years of life.  He then asks, “[i]f a woman feels that eight, 18, or 28 weeks after birth isn’t too late for her, shouldn’t we trust her judgment?” Sounds like someone’s been reading Unwind!

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Judge Blocks Texas Forced Sonogram Bill, Texas Women See Glimmer of Hope

NOTE: This is an update to fabulous Feminists For Choice blogger Maureen’s post. You can read it here.

I’m sure you read the horrific news coming out of Texas over the last few months. Our governor (and GOP presidential candidate) Rick Perry signed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to view a sonogram of their fetus. And that’s not even the bad part – these women would be forced to watch the sonogram with their physician describing the images to them and listen to an audio of the fetus’ heartbeat.

Yeah. Pretty terrible stuff, right? Luckily for Texas women (and children) though, the Texas Independent has reported that U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has blocked the bill and struck down 2 of its more egregious provisions. In response to a petition from the Center for Reproductive Rights petition, Judge Sparks found that provisions of the bill violated the free speech rights of both patient and physician.  [Read more...]

The Amazing Talking Fetus of Ohio

Tomorrow, Ohio politicians will hear testimony concerning the so-called “heartbeat bill.” The AP reports that one of the legislative witnesses to appear before the state House Health Action Committee will be … a fetus

Yes, that’s right. A fetus. Faith2Action, the anti-choice group behind the bill, has scheduled a nine-week-old fetus as a legislative witness. Never mind that a nine-week-old fetus quite literally doesn’t have a voice – all Faith2Action is concerned with is its heartbeat. And so a pregnant woman will appear before the committee and have an ultrasound of her uterus projected on to a screen so that the heartbeat can be shown. In color, no less.

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Its Embryonic Personhood, People: The Real Reason Behind Oklahoma HB 1595



As you know, FFC has been up in arms over Oklahoma’s Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act–an unprecedented, unbelievably ridiculous invasion of female privacy, as well as a bureaucratic nightmare for providers.

I fear, however, that much of the hullabaloo over this bill is off base. Worse, I am fairly certain that the provisions of the bill that have received most of the attention are red-herrings. Yes, the bill mandates that providers ask women invasive questions and that the data they collect be submitted to the Oklahoma Department of Health Services. Yes, this creates an undue burden on providers and is just plain rude. Especially since there is no place on the form for women to say, “I am having an abortion because I want to and because you don’t get to tell me what to do with my uterus!”

BUT. Contrary to much of the uproar, the data collected will not be made available to the public via the web. In fact, the text of the bill specifically says that the site must be secure enough to ensure that only certain people have access to it. Given that the state will likely argue for a compelling research interest in collecting the data, my guess is that HIPPA challenges to the bill will fail.
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Florida Jumps on the Personhood Bandwagon

FloridaMapFlorida is the latest state to jump on the personhood bandwagon. Like Colorado and Montana, voters in Florida will potentially consider a bill in 2010 that would define a fetus as a person, replete with constitutional rights. According to the Sun-Sentinel:

The Virgina-based American Life League will announce today a petition drive for the proposed “Personhood Amendment” to the Florida Constitution.

It would define a “person” as being in existence from “the beginning of the biological development.”

We’ve already had several articles on Feminists For Choice about the potential consequences that such a bill would have. Every pregnancy would be effected – if a mother fails to get proper prenatal care (oh, say because she’s poor and access to prenatal care has been restricted as a result of the crack down on family planning services), the vagueness of the bill could mean that she is held criminally responsible for child endangerment. The right to choose a home birth or a vaginal birth over a c-section could be curtailed – as it was in New Jersey, when a woman who refused to have a c-section was arrested for child endangerment. [Read more...]

Book Shelf: The War on Choice

400000000000000076829_s4I just finished reading Gloria Feldt’s The War on Choice and discussing it with my feminist study group. This is an absolute must read for pro-choice activists. For those who don’t know, Gloria Feldt is the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In The War on Choice Feldt documents the ways in which reproductive rights have been restricted over the past twenty years. The book is divided into several sections, including legislative issues, sex education, international relations, and activism. The central argument of the book is that reproductive rights are the bedrock upon which all other rights are founded – if women don’t control their reproductive lives, they have no control over their destiny. Consequently, Feldt urges readers to become active and take at least one action every day to further the pro-choice movement.

The War on Choice is such an important book that I will be breaking up my review into several posts. Today I want to talk about “The State of the Uterus,” Feldt’s chapter about personhood statutes. Anti-choice attempts to define a fetus as a person did not begin with Colorado’s proposed constitutional amendment last year. The stage for personhood statutes was actually set in 1992 with the Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Casey decision stated that restrictions on abortion are constitutional so long as the restrictions do not constitute an “undue burden” on women. However, the Court never defined what it meant by the “undue burden” standard. Consequently, anti-choice activists keep pushing the envelope further and further to restrict access to abortion. [Read more...]

What Does Personhood Really Mean?

Last week we reported that anti-choice groups in Colorado and Montana have reintroduced ballot initiatives that would define a fetus as a person from the moment of conception and grant it full legal rights. These bills are being sponsored by a new group called Personhood USA, but who is the mythical man behind the curtain? Wendy Norris explains:

The 2010 campaign will be backed by Personhood USA, a new national nonprofit organization formed from the ashes of Burton’s Colorado for Equal Rights, whose supporters were linked to militant anti-abortion groups, like the Army of God.

The Denver-based Personhood USA is headed by former Wichita resident and ex-Operation Rescue “truth truck” driver Keith Mason, and Michigan anti-abortion activist Cal Zastrow. Veterans of the failed Colorado campaign, the two men most recently were involved in the unsuccessful 2008 South Dakota citizen-initiated abortion ban and failed legislative actions in Montana and North Dakota earlier this spring. [Read more...]

Against Compulsory Ultrasound Legislation

I went back and forth on the title of this post, from what it is to, “For Sensible Ultrasound Legislation.” Perhaps that gives some insight into how very prickly this subject can be.

In the past few years, several states have entertained legislation dealing with varying requirements involving ultrasound technology and abortion. These range from offering an ultrasound to mandating both an ultrasound and a discussion of the development of the fetus. Some include funding, some make the woman pay. Some apply to all abortions, some only after the first trimester. These provisions are as different and nuanced as can be, so it would be ill-considered to condemn or celebrate all of them.

Nebraska is the latest state to adopt ultrasound legislation. Ultrasounds are not usually considered medically necessary for first-trimester abortions. Many clinics provide the option already, however.
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