Anti-Abortion Legislation on the Rise in Southern States
Anti-abortion legislation in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arizona hit hard this week — all three considering or having laws go into effect that would reduce or completely cut off access to certain types of abortions within the states. In Arizona, a law went into effect that limited women’s ability to seek out a drug-induced abortion. Planned Parenthood asked that U.S. District Judge David Bury freeze the law before it went into effect while it awaits consideration on its constitutionality, but he chose at the last moment to allow it to continue into implementation. “Given the ready availability of a safe alternative method of abortion,” Bury said, he believes it would be hard for Planned Parenthood to demonstrate that the law “is a substantial obstacle to a woman’s right to obtain a first trimester abortion in Arizona,” according to Bloomberg.
The law bans abortions through medicinal methods in the 8th and 9th weeks of pregnancy, a ban that covers the RU-486 pill. Some — such as David Brown, lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights — argue that the law would make abortions less safe for women. “This law serves no purpose other than to prevent Arizona women from using a safe alternative to surgical abortion and force their doctors to follow an outdated, riskier, and less effective method,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
“This is what happens when politicians, not doctors, practice medicine.” Drug-induced-abortion legislation has been challenged in Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas so far; Arizona has been appealing and banning in turn, striking down various abortion legislation for some time now, while also attempting to knock the Roe v. Wade decision over and deny access to abortion in general.
In Louisiana’s House of Representatives, a restrictive abortion measure was passed by a vote of 85 to 6 on Monday, and is headed to the Senate. In the House, the measure seemed to see very little in the way of controversy. Governor Bobby Jindal, and other anti-abortionists, including Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert, emphasized that the law is meant to protect women’s health.
“Members, this is about the safety of women,” said Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) — reports The Times Picayune — noting that it would require that abortions were only performed within 30 miles of a hospital that gave it admitting privileges and similar restrictions on medication that induces abortions. Others argue that the measures are less about keeping women safe, and more about closing three of the five abortion clinics in Louisiana, something the proposal would do if passed.
Mississippi’s Governor, Phil Bryant, announced on Tuesday, according to The Times Picayune, that he would be pleased to sign a bill that disallows abortion at 20 weeks and beyond. “This measure represents a great effort to protect the unborn in Mississippi,” he said after both the House and Senate of Mississippi passed the bill with enormous majorities, 91 to 20 in the house, and 41 t0 10 in the Senate. In an interview with The Times Picayune, Mississippi abortion clinic owner Diane Derzis said that while her clinic has a 16 week deadline, others would likely challenge the law. Most abortions recorded by the Health Department stats show unknown gestational age, according to The Times Picayune, and as a result, a major concern for supporters of the bill lies in those that are not recorded.
One of the few in the state senate to vote against the ban, Senator Deborah Dawkins, said that she believes it would disproportionately affect women of low sociology-economic status, because those with more money can leave the state to seek a later term abortion. “It occurs to me, over the past few years, that a lot of men do not understand how a female body works,” she said, according to The Times Picayune.
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