New Study Finds Anti-Choice Legislation Used To Infringe on Pregnant Women's Liberties
In addition to restricting reproductive health care access, anti-choice legislation has been increasingly used to deny pregnant women of their rights including the right to physical liberty, according to a new study released in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law on Tuesday. The study "Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women's Legal Status and Public Health" also considers what implications so-called "personhood" legislation would have for pregnant women.
The study comprehensively looks at 413 cases of arrests, detentions and other challenges to the physical liberties of women from when Roe v Wade was decided in 1973 to 2005. The authors of the study, Lynn M Platrow and Jeanne Flavin, found that in most cases, anti-choice legislation was used to incarcerate pregnant women and forcibly prevent them from obtaining certain medical services or undergo involuntary medical care. Such cases included women who were refused certain gestational tests, had miscarried or had a stillbirth, and women who were in drug treatment programs during their pregnancy. The authors of the study have also identified over 250 similar incidents since they concluded their study in 2005.
Platrow and Flavin came to the conclusion that "if passed, so called 'personhood' measures would: 1) provide the basis for arresting pregnant women who have abortions; and 2) provide state actors with the authority to subject all pregnant women to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and other deprivations of liberty whether women seek to end a pregnancy or not."
"Furthermore," they continue, "the study demonstrates that there is no way to add fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses to state constitutions or to the United States Constitution without removing all pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons. These measures create a 'Jane Crow' system of law, establishing a separate and unequal status for all pregnant women and disproportionately punishing African-American and low-income women."
Personhood legislation has been rejected nationwide by voters and courts alike. Despite repeated defeats, Congressman Paul Ryan recently co-sponsored the "Sanctity of Human Life Act" which would grant full personhood rights to any "one-celled human embryo."
Media Resources: "Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women's Legal Status and Public Health" 1/15/2013; RH Reality Check 1/14/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/7/2012, 11/9/2011
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
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This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .