Idaho Woman Arrested and Ostracized for Having an Abortion

In 2010, Jennie McCormack found out she was pregnant. The man who got her pregnant had just been sent to jail, and the single, unemployed mother with three young children lived on the $250 she received in child support each month. The nearest clinic to McCormack’s home in southeastern Idaho was in Salt Lake City, a two-and-a-half hour trip that McCormack would have to make four times, because Utah has a waiting period for women seeking abortions. McCormack didn’t have a car, or anyone that could watch her children, to say nothing of the at least $500 needed for the procedure. So Jennie McCormack called her sister, who lived out of state, and asked her to buy RU-486 online and send it to her, for a cost of about $200.

Medical abortions are generally approved for use in up to the ninth week of pregnancy. McCormack thought that she was early enough to use the pills, but the fetus was larger than she expected – it’s possible that the pregnancy was as far as twenty weeks – and she got scared. McCormack called a friend, who called his sister, who called the police – and McCormack was arrested under a 1972 Idaho law that makes it a crime for women to induce their own abortions. The law, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, has never been enforced.

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Pro-choice News Roundup

Occupying the Waiting Room: 40 Years of Healthcare Needs. On the Issues.

Arizona GOP Legislator Says Women Should Witness Abortions. Huffington Post.

Idaho Lawmaker Sparks Anger with Abortion Comments.

Anias Nin, Diary Writing, and Women’s History Month. Huffington Post.

5 Reasons the GOP’s Attack on Birth Control Screws Men. Alternet.




Idaho Tables Forced Ultrasound Bill

Image courtesy of Star-Telegram

In what is widely being seen as a victory for reproductive rights (not to mention rational thought), Idaho politicians have backed off of a forced ultrasound bill. The bill has not been officially killed yet, but this is a positive sign.

The bill, which was proposed by state Senator Chuck Winder, mandated that women must have an ultrasound prior to receiving an abortion. The legislation also stipulated that a doctor or clinic employee must perform the ultrasound, although part of the bill also mandated that a list of places where the ultrasound could be performed for free be made accessible to women. Neither Winder nor the bill’s supporters seemed concerned that the most common kind of places to performs free ultrasounds are crisis pregnancy clinics, which are not exactly known for giving women accurate, unbiased medical information. And of course, if a woman did decide to get an ultrasound at a free clinic, then the exam wouldn’t have been performed by the doctor or abortion clinic staff, as is also required in the bill, so she’d have to get yet another ultrasound done, and be charged for it.

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Pro-Choice News Roundup

It’s been a busy week as far as pro-choice news is concerned.  Here’s a roundup in case you missed anything.

Idaho woman challenges the state’s late-term abortion ban – Houston Chronicle
UK is debating mandatory counseling for abortion patients – The Guardian
RU-486 may become available in Australia – The Australian
Kansas told they have to fund Planned Parenthood – Businessweek
What new legal obstacles mean for women in Ohio – RH Reality Check

Woman in Idaho Arrested for Administering Her Own Abortion

A woman in Idaho was arrested and charged with having an “illegal abortion” as a result of purchasing medication over the internet that would induce an abortion. Jennie L. McCormack could not afford to go to a clinic to have a legal abortion, so she asked her sister to purchase the abortion pill via the web. If McCormack is found guilty, she could face a fine of $5000 and a five-year prison sentence.

Women should absolutely be able to take control of their bodies into their own hands. Taking mifepristone and misoprostol outside of a health center should not be deemed illegal. Women should be the ones who decide when and if they will become mothers. Period.

Care2 is circulating a petition asking the Idaho courts to drop the charges against McCormack. You can add your name to the list of people who support McCormack’s decision to make health care choices on her own.

Anti-Choice Legislation Across the Country

The week of March 14 saw several states passing anti-choice laws, and a potential 2010 ballot initiative in Colorado.

In Kentucky, a bill that would require in-person counseling 24 hours and an ultrasound prior to an abortion stalled in the House. The state Senate voted in favor of the bill in late January; last month, the measure received a tie vote in the House’s Health and Welfare Committee, marking the fourth time the bill had failed to move out of a House committee. Pro-choice advocates are concerned that the requirement will create additional burdens to accessing abortion care.

Idaho’s House of Representatives approved a “conscience bill,” which would allow health care professionals to refuse access to contraception, abortion, and end-of-life treatment. Written by abortion opponents and sponsored in the House by Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Iona), the measure has already been passed by the Senate and now goes to Governor C.L. Otter for final approval. The measure’s opponents fear that the bill would intrude into private decisions, as well as conflict with current laws regarding medical treatment.

Idaho politicians also decided to follow in the steps of anti-choice legislators in Georgia, introducing a bill that would ban race- or sex-selective abortions. Rep. Steve Kren introduced the bill, saying, “It’s not something that I know of that is a problem, but it is something I feel we should protect against.” Arizona, Mississippi, and New Jersey are considering similar legislations. Opponents of the bill contend that it violates both individual clinics’ First Amendment rights and a woman’s right to privacy, as well as placing an undue burden on providers. [Read more...]