On July 1st, Mississippi becomes the first state in the country with no abortion clinic.

The Mississippi Department of Health is forcing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, to immediately comply with a new law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

To date, none of the highly qualified doctors who regularly provide abortions at the clinic have been granted those privileges.

This unreasonable law puts women’s lives in danger and deprives them of their constitutionally-protected right to decide whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term. The Center filed a legal challenge against the law on June 27, 2012 in an effort to block the state’s unconstitutional attack on women’s health.

Right now, thousands of women travel from all corners of the state, and beyond, to reach the clinic. Even if Jackson Women’s Health Organization has to shut down, women won’t stop seeking abortions. Instead, they’ll be forced to travel out of state to the nearest clinic or they’ll turn to unsafe options putting their health and even their lives at risk.

But the lawmakers responsible for this callous law don’t care about women or the resulting hardships. In fact, State Representative Sam Mims, the sponsor of the law, was quoted by the New York Times saying, “If this abortion clinic is closed, I think it’s a great day for Mississippi.” Gov. Phil Bryant similarly said, “If [the law] closes that clinic, then so be it.”

More infos:

http://reproductiverights.org/en/feature/the-end-of-abortion

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South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers

A bill under consideration in the Mount Rushmore State would make preventing harm to a fetus a “justifiable homicide” in many cases.

— By Kate Sheppard

Tue Feb. 15, 2011 3:00 AM PST

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

“The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers.”

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.

Jensen did not return calls to his home or his office requesting comment on the bill, which is cosponsored by 22 other state representatives and four state senators.

“The bill in South Dakota is an invitation to murder abortion providers,” says Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers. Since 1993, eight doctors have been assassinated at the hands of anti-abortion extremists, and another 17 have been the victims of murder attempts. Some of the perpetrators of those crimes have tried to use the justifiable homicide defense at their trials. “This is not an abstract bill,” Saporta says. The measure could have major implications if a “misguided extremist invokes this ‘self-defense’ statute to justify the murder of a doctor, nurse or volunteer,” the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families warned in a message to supporters last week.

The original version of the bill did not include the language regarding the “unborn child”; it was pitched as a simple clarification of South Dakota’s justifiable homicide law. Last week, however, the bill was “hoghoused”—a term used in South Dakota for heavily amending legislation in committee—in a little-noticed hearing. A parade of right-wing groups—the Family Heritage Alliance, Concerned Women for America, the South Dakota branch of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, and a political action committee called Family Matters in South Dakota—all testified in favor of the amended version of the law.

Jensen, the bill’s sponsor, has said that he simply intends to bring “consistency” to South Dakota’s criminal code, which already allows prosecutors to charge people with manslaughter or murder for crimes that result in the death of fetuses. But there’s a difference between counting the murder of a pregnant woman as two crimes—which is permissible under law in many states—and making the protection of a fetus an affirmative defense against a murder charge.

“They always intended this to be a fetal personhood bill, they just tried to cloak it as a self-defense bill,” says Kristin Aschenbrenner, a lobbyist for South Dakota Advocacy Network for Women. “They’re still trying to cloak it, but they amended it right away, making their intent clear.” The major change to the legislation also caught abortion rights advocates off guard. “None of us really felt like we were prepared,” she says.

Sara Rosenbaum, a law professor at George Washington University who frequently testifies before Congress about abortion legislation, says the bill is legally dubious. “It takes my breath away,” she says in an email toMother Jones. “Constitutionally, a state cannot make it a crime to perform a constitutionally lawful act.”

South Dakota already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, and one of the lowest abortion rates. Since 1994, there have been no providers in the state. Planned Parenthood flies a doctor in from out-of-state once a week to see patients at a Sioux Falls clinic. Women from the more remote parts of the large, rural state drive up to six hours to reach this lone clinic. And under state law women are then required to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure.

Before performing an abortion, a South Dakota doctor must offer the woman the opportunity to view a sonogram. And under a law passed in 2005, doctors are required to read a script meant to discourage women from proceeding with the abortion: “The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Until recently, doctors also had to tell a woman seeking an abortion that she had “an existing relationship with that unborn human being” that was protected under the Constitution and state law and that abortion poses a “known medical risk” and “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.” In August 2009, a US District Court Judge threw out those portions of the script, finding them “untruthful and misleading.” The state has appealed the decision.

The South Dakota legislature has twice tried to ban abortion outright, but voters rejected the ban at the polls in 2006 and 2008, by a 12-point margin both times. Conservative lawmakers have since been looking to limit access any other way possible. “They seem to be taking an end run around that,” says state Sen. Angie Buhl, a Democrat. “They recognize that people don’t want a ban, so they are trying to seek a de facto ban by making it essentially impossible to access abortion services.”

South Dakota’s legislature is strongly tilted against abortion rights, which makes passing restrictions fairly easy. Just 19 of 70 House members and 5 of the 35 state senators are Democrats—and many of the Democrats also oppose abortion rights.

The law that would legalize killing abortion providers is just one of several measures under consideration in the state that would create more obstacles for a woman seeking an abortion. Another proposed law, House Bill 1217, would force women to undergo counseling at a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) before they can obtain an abortion. CPCs are not regulated and are generally run by anti-abortion Christian groups and staffed by volunteers—not doctors or nurses—with the goal of discouraging women from having abortions.

A congressional investigation into CPCs in 2006 found that the centers often provide “false or misleading information about the health risks of an abortion”—alleging ties between abortion and breast cancer, negative impacts on fertility, and mental-health concerns. “This may advance the mission of the pregnancy resource centers, which are typically pro-life organizations dedicated to preventing abortion,” the report concluded, “but it is an inappropriate public health practice.” In a recent interview, state Rep. Roger Hunt, one of the bill’s sponsors, acknowledged that its intent is to “drastically reduce” the number of abortions in South Dakota.

House Bill 1217 would also require women to wait 72 hours after counseling before they can go forward with the abortion, and would require the doctor to develop an analysis of “risk factors associated with abortion” for each woman—a provision that critics contend is intentionally vague and could expose providers to lawsuits. A similar measure passed in Nebraska last spring, but a federal judge threw it out it last July, arguing that it would “require medical providers to give untruthful, misleading and irrelevant information to patients” and would create “substantial, likely insurmountable, obstacles” to women who want abortions. Extending the wait time and requiring a woman to consult first with the doctor, then with the CPC, and then meet with the doctor again before she can undergo the procedure would add additional burdens for women—especially for women who work or who already have children.

The South Dakota bills reflect a broader national strategy on the part of abortion-rights opponents, says Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate with the Guttmacher Institute, a federal reproductive health advocacy and research group. “They erect a legal barrier, another, and another,” says Nash. “At what point do women say, ‘I can’t climb that mountain’? This is where we’re getting to.”

 

The human foetus cannot feel pain before the age of 24 weeks so there is no reason to change the current abortion limit, health experts have said.

Nerve connections in the brain are not sufficiently formed to allow pain perception until after the official 24-week limit for terminations, a Government-commissioned report found.

The study, carried out by members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, also said the foetus was in a state of “continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation” even after 24 weeks.

This could mean that late abortions, which are permitted for serious abnormalities or risks to the mother’s health, may not result in foetal suffering.

The landmark findings come amid efforts by some MPs – including Prime Minister David Cameron – to lower the abortion limit. A fresh analysis of evidence for foetal pain was recommended by MPs from the Commons Science and Technology committee during the last parliament.

On the issue of pain perception, the Royal College report concluded: “It was apparent that connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the foetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation.”

It added: “There is increasing evidence that the foetus never experiences a state of true wakefulness in utero and is kept, by the presence of its chemical environment, in a continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation.”

Professor Allan Templeton, president of the Royal College and who chaired the inquiry, told a newspaper: “There’s nothing in the report that suggests any need to review the upper limit.”

from Press Association

Good Bye Gag Rule Forever?

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010 late last week. According to Congresswoman Clarke’s press release, the bill (HR 5121), “seeks to strengthen and expand the U.S. government’s current program on international family planning and reproductive health into a more comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program.” Its specific provisions would support family planning programs that aim to reduce unsafe abortion, prevent the spread of STIs and HIV, promote the use of contraceptives, train healthcare professionals, and provide education and outreach services.

The president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, Adrienne Germain, applauded the introduction of the bill, and said in a press release, “Access to contraception and safe abortion services is fundamental to a woman’s ability to exercise her rights to control her body, to self-determination, and to maintain her health. In the 21st century no woman should die or suffer the traumas of an unsafe or illegal abortion.” She added, “Providing the full menu of services that women and young people need is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

99% of pregnancy related deaths occur in the developing world and the vast majority of these fatalities are preventable. Representative Clarke further elaborated, “providing contraceptives to the 215 million women in developing countries who are not able to access modern contraceptive methods would avert: 53 million unintended pregnancies; 150,000 women from dying of pregnancy-related complications; 600,000 children from losing their mothers, and 25 million induced abortions each year. Simultaneously investing in family planning services and pregnancy-related care would achieve even greater results by slashing maternal deaths by 70% and newborn deaths by almost half.”

Under the guise of obtaining informed patient consent, this new law requires doctors to withhold pregnancy termination until an ultrasound is performed.

The new statute requires the person performing the ultrasound to describe the dimensions of the fetus, whether arms, legs and internal organs are visible and whether there is cardiac activity. It also requires the doctor to turn a screen depicting the ultrasound images toward the woman to see them.

“We’ve had patients leave the ultrasound room in tears because of what they had to hear. But no patient at the clinic had yet canceled an abortion after hearing a description of the fetus” said Linda Meek, executive director of Reproductive Services of Tulsa.

Meek said requiring women to listen to a description can be traumatic, she said, especially for rape and incest victims and women with fetal abnormalities or whose pregnancy threatens their own life.

The law states that either an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound, whichever gives the best image of the fetus, must be done. Neither the patient nor the doctor can decide which type of ultrasound to use, and the patient cannot opt out of the ultrasound and still have the procedure. In effect, then, the legislature has mandated that a woman have an instrument placed in her vagina for no medical benefit. The law makes no exception for victims of rape and incest.

More info here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyldVhqYLNI

and here  http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/83454/

Utah passed a new law, in which women who miscarry could face charges of murder and life sentences in prison.

This law differs radically from feticide laws in other states in its punishment of pregnant women themselves, said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the New York-based National Association of Pregnant Women.

Other states, such as North Carolina, Florida and Mississippi, have laws that are directed towards a third party and “were passed in response to a pregnant woman who has been beaten up by a husband or boyfriend,” Paltrow said. But Utah’s law is directed to the woman herself, and that’s what makes it different and dangerous.”

Some of the “knowing or intentional” acts that may be prosecuted under the law include smoking cigarettes during pregnancy, staying in an abusive relationship, refusing a Caesarean section or bed rest when instructed by a doctor or using prescription medications (f.e. cancer treatment) that are known to harm a fetus. One major concern is that the bill will drive women in need of prenatal and health care underground.

“Pregnant women will be likely to avoid seeking prenatal or open medical care for fear that their physician’s knowledge of substance abuse or other potentially harmful behavior could result in a jail sentence,” the American Medical Association has commented. Any health care provider could become an informant, reporting the pregnant woman to the police when knowing her actions would potentially terminate her pregnancy.

“There is no doubt that this law will be tested out on immigrant women and low-income women,” Fuentes and Reynoso write, “as women who are less likely to have health insurance, a regular health care provider and more likely to work in dangerous conditions…this law sanctions prosecutors to bring criminal charges against those women who have health outcomes that are worse than their wealthier, white, non-immigrant counterparts.”

Read the whole article here

http://www.womensenews.org/story/law/100419/utahs-feticide-law-puts-miscarriage-trial