RMC Responds: Year of the Trap Laws

rmc_responds1During 2013, a year of delayed budget deals, government shutdowns and a disastrous health care rollout, a vocal but organized minority put forth over 320 bills pushing big-government interference in the personal decisions of families. There were 205 restrictions to reproductive health enacted between 2011 and 2013 (in just three years) a stark increase over the 189 restrictions passed during the entire decade before (2001-2010).  The majority of these restrictions are medically unnecessary and do little to either curb the number of abortions or to improve the health and lives of women and families, as many claim.

This week, one commenter asked a question: “Why would any woman object to health and safety regulations at an Abortion Facility?”

Most would agree that these facilities should be regulated as any other medical center. Family planning clinics that provide abortions should be and currently are subject to the same standards and regulations as all other surgical medical facilities. Yet the increased demand for regulation of this particular procedure, and of the facilities that provide it, seems to have little to do with safely and much more to do with the politics of morality. Whether it’s claims of wrong door size, insufficient number of parking spaces or incorrect numbers of water fountains, the anti-choice community has managed to use any available means to shutter the doors of reproductive health clinics nationwide. As long as abortion remains legal anti-choice lawmakers and activists aim to impose as many barriers as possible between women and this safe and legal procedure. And by doing so hundreds of thousands of women suffer as they are unable to access preventive reproductive healthcare every day.

Forced ultrasound laws, for example, are increasingly a popular tactic at the state level. Currently ten states require women to undergo (and pay for) a medically unnecessary ultrasound before accessing abortion services. Of these ten states, three require the physician to show the woman the image and describe it to her. Anti-choice activists argue that they are simply giving women all the information available. They believe that once women see the ultrasound they will change their mind about going through with the abortion. A new study however, disproves these claims and emphasizes the frivolity of these anti-choice regulations. Published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology — researchers analyzed over 15,575 visits to a large, urban reproductive health clinic in 2011 and found that the  majority of women who seek out abortion services have already made up their mind regardless of witnessing their ultrasound image.  As part of the study, all patients received an ultrasound before continuing with their procedure, and each woman was given the opportunity to look at the image. Most patients chose not to look at it. Women chose to view the ultrasound image about 42 percent of the time — and of those women, 98 percent of them chose to have an abortion anyway. The researchers concluded: “Such viewing does not alter decisions of the large majority of women who are certain that abortion is the right decision.”

This study, just one of many, reveals what RMC has known all along. The government has no place interfering in the personal medical decisions of women and families. These private and always difficult medical decisions should be left to the women, her family and her doctor. Increasing regulations deemed unnecessary by the medical community only increases the costs both to individuals, and to taxpayers and the government — and more importantly does not decrease the rate or incidence of abortion nationwide. 

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