Mad Men, Angry Women

6839298987_829409ce41Apparently, retro is in. And it’s not just limited to the pillbox hats and Mad Men-era outfits that women wore in protest last Thursday against regressive abortion legislation in Texas.

The War on Women Watch continued in Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio this past week, as oppressive anti-abortion proposals flooded those states’ legislatures. The advancing legislation includes 20-week abortion bans, required pre-abortion ultrasounds and TRAP laws that impose unnecessary and costly regulations on abortion providers.

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker has pledged to sign anti-abortion legislation which has been approved by both houses of the state legislature. SB 206 mandates ultrasounds prior to abortion procedures (except in the case of rape, sexual assault or incest), including for women in their first trimester. This means they must undergo a transvaginal probe, the medically invasive procedure which some have referred to as “state-sanctioned rape.” Furthermore, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 88 percent of women have abortions within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy, thus making the unnecessary and costly transvaginal ultrasound the only viable option under this proposed law. The Wisconsin bill also requires that the ultrasound results be provided to the woman, although she can decline them.

In a statement, Jenni Dye, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin said,

This bill is an obvious attempt to attack not only women’s ability to make their own decisions about this personal issue without government intrusion, but women even having access to abortion services in Wisconsin.

Additionally, if the bill becomes law, all Wisconsin abortion clinic doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at hospitals within a 30-mile radius—potentially closing the Appleton clinic, one of Wisconsin’s four abortion clinics. (Admitting privileges are unnecessary, as women can still be admitted to the hospital in an emergency without an admitting physician. Moreover, hospitals rarely grant out-of-state doctors admitting privileges, and many clinics rely on out-of-state physicians because anti-abortion extremists target local doctors.) Finally, the Wisconsin Assembly has also approved bills that ban sex-selective abortions and prohibit state insurance coverage for abortions, as well as limiting access to birth control by no longer mandating that religiously affiliated organizations cover contraceptives in their employee health insurance plans.

In Texas, meanwhile, Republican Gov. Rick Perry has added an anti-abortion bill to the special legislative session agenda. The proposed bill, SB 5, passed in the state Senate on Tuesday night. It increases unnecessary TRAP regulations for abortion clinics by requiring that all clinics comply with ambulatory surgical center standards, mandates hospital admitting privileges and requires physicians to administer abortion pills in person (cutting off women in rural, remote areas from accessing this early abortion method). This bill previously included a clause banning abortions after 20 weeks, but the provision was eventually dropped from the approved legislation. SB 5 will now advance to the Republican-controlled House for a vote where it is expected to pass. Currently, there are 47 abortion providers in Texas, but if SB 5 becomes law it will potentially shut down all but 5 clinics.

Even worse than the anti-abortion bills in Wisconsin and Texas, however, is Ohio’s HB 200. It would require women to cover the cost of their required ultrasounds and forces doctors to tell a woman about the fetal heartbeat as well as giving her misleading medical information about fetal pain and the debunked claim that there’s a higher risk of breast cancer among women who have had abortions. The legislation also would extend the previous 24-hour mandatory waiting period to 48 hours, with no exceptions in the event of a medically necessary abortion. Doctors who fail to abide by these punitive regulations could be charged with a felony and receive a fine of up to $1 million.

By severely limiting access to abortion and other reproductive health resources, these measures threaten to effectively eliminate a woman’s right to access an abortion. And these Republican law-makers, well, they truly are “Mad Men.”

Photo by Flickr user slw606 under license from Creative Commons 2.0