Arizona’s HB2416 is an All Out Assault on Women’s Health

On Saturday, April 2nd, Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer attended a dinner with the Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-choice PAC whose sole mission is to outlaw abortion.  At the dinner, Brewer signed HB2416 into law.  This bill has several restrictions on abortion.  And Brewer’s choice to sign the bill at the CAP dinner is a very clear signal about the status of women’s health in the state of Arizona.  The Republican super-majority in the state legislature and the governor would rather play politics with women’s lives than actually pass policies that will help reduce the need for abortion by making birth control and comprehensive sex education the hallmark of our state’s public health approach.

AJ’s article mentioned that HB2416 restricts access to medical abortion (which is performed by administering two pills that induce abortion) by legally requiring a physician to perform abortions.  But AJ didn’t tell you an important part of how that was accomplished.  HB2416 defines medical abortion as “surgery.”  Next time you take your allergy pills in the morning, you should ask yourself, “am I having a surgery?  Do I need to check myself into a hospital to take this pill?”  Because that is what HB2416 says is the law – as far as the abortion pill is concerned, anyway.

Defining medical abortion as surgery will have a very harsh effect on women in rural communities.  Currently, there are only two women’s health clinics in the state of Arizona that employ a physician – the rest have nurse practitioners and midwives.  Those clinics are located in Tucson and Phoenix.  Women who live outside of the Tucson and Phoenix metro areas will have to travel several hours to get to an abortion clinic.  And with the state’s 24 hour waiting period (which was passed in 2009 under HB2564), that trip may involve an overnight stay in a motel, or several additional hours of travel if the women decide to drive back and forth for their appointments.  [Read more...]

Ohio Republicans Seek To Outlaw Abortion After Six Weeks

Between LiveAction’s crusade against Planned Parenthood and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, it’s been a pretty tough couple of weeks for abortion rights. And now a group of Ohio politicians are supporting a bill that would ban abortions at heartbeat. Because, as Representative Mike Henne puts it, “Heartbeat? Life? It just makes sense.”

A heartbeat can be detected anywhere from 18 days to six weeks, so the so-called “heartbeat bill” would outlaw abortions at a much earlier point than accepted law – most notably Roe v. Wade – requires. Not surprisingly, this bill is considered a direct attack on Roe, and its sponsor has said that he hopes the bill will help lead to a Supreme Court decision restricting abortions. As of now, the “heartbeat bill” has a strong chance of passing in the Ohio legislature; and, according to one of its supporters, similar legislation is being considered in Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia and discussed in Kansas and Arizona.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2006, 88% of all abortions were performed in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. That’s twelve weeks – almost twice as long as the Ohio bill would allow. For many women, those extra weeks mean more time to raise the money to pay for an abortion, to arrange childcare and/or time off work, and, if they live in a state with a mandatory waiting period, to schedule two different appointments with the clinic. That extra time is essential not just for all those reasons, but also because a lot of women don’t realize they’re pregnant until well into the first trimester. But apparently Ohio legislators believe that every woman automatically knows the minute she becomes pregnant, and has the cash on hand for an abortion and a flexible schedule at her disposal. [Read more...]

Liveblogging a Medical Abortion

I’m not really sure what to make of Angie Jackson, a 27-year-old mother who’s live-Tweeting her medical abortion.

In an interview with blogger Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky, Angie discusses her reasons for sharing her abortion in such a public way:

“[W] what I was trying to say to people who find themselves in this position is that I was relieved to find out that I had this non-surgical option [the abortion pill] and that I was early enough [in my pregnancy] to get it. I was so relieved to see how simple it’s been. The actual process has been like a menstrual period. It’s not foreign or scary.”

De-mystifying both medical and surgical abortion is an admirable goal; a lot of women who seek abortion care don’t really know what to expect, and this lack of knowledge can cause unnecessary worry and stress. And just as it’s every woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her family, it’s also every woman’s – heck, every person’s – right to share their reasons in as public a manner as they want. It would be nice to think that Twittering an abortion is one more step in the long-overdue normalization of a very common medical procedure, but is anyone well served by reducing a complicated subject to 140 characters?