Fight for Individual Rights Continues on State Level

Last year extremists proposed over 300 anti-choice bills in state legislatures across the country. Now women and families are paying the consequences as these largely unnecessary restrictions begin to go into effect and reproductive health clinics that provide abortions in addition to preventive services are forced to enter expensive legal battles in order to keep their doors open.  The state of Oklahoma is still engaged in legal battles over past abortion restrictions, but far-right legislators have already announced that they plan to make social issues, including abortion, a priority this year.

In Iowa, a judge delayed a rule passed last year that would ban the use of telemedicine for medical abortions while it is being challenged by a women’s healthcare clinic.  The legislature, however, has already introduced a bill that would make that ban a law.  Telemedicine, which is permitted for a number of other practices, is a safe and practical way for women in rural areas to get appropriate medical care.  If the rule stands, it would likely increase the incidence of late term abortion in the state, where most women must travel significant distances to receive reproductive health services.  The sponsor of the bill stated that he would like to end all abortion in the state, although showed no focus on birth control or comprehensive sex education.

Indiana is also facing challenges to a law that was set to go into effect in January.  The new legislation, if upheld in court, would specifically target abortion clinics with arbitrary rules designed to end access to legal, safe abortion, and the ultimate result would likely be an increase in late-term abortion.  Among the most ludicrous of the rules that supporters claim are in the interest of women’s health are regulations that require clinics providing medical abortion but absolutely no surgical procedures to nonetheless meet all the requirements of a surgical center.  This legislation includes specific standards for room size and number of staff, which bears absolutely no relation to the actual procedure performed in these clinics, which consists of administering a pill.  Upgrades to meet these unreasonable standards would likely be too high for most clinics.

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