Here’s a list of a dozen states where abortion is virtually illegal, thus endangering women’s health and freedom.
Alabama: Although many antichoice organizations and leaders have promised that recriminalizing abortion would not result in the prosecution and imprisonment of women, the claim that human eggs, embryos and fetuses have separate legal rights has provided the basis for the arrest of about 60 women. They’ve been prosecuted under a 2006 state law that was designed to provide special penalties for people who bring children into meth labs.
Idaho: The number of abortion providers fell from seven in 2005 to four in 2011. The first arrest wasn’t a doctor but a mother of three who was charged with “unlawful abortion” for ingesting pills to induce a miscarriage because of the state’s recent ban on post-20-week abortions. The woman believed she was only 14 weeks pregnant.
Iowa: Having accidentally fallen down some stairs, a pregnant woman went to a hospital. After mentioning to a nurse that she had briefly considered abortion early in her pregnancy, the nurse called the cops, claiming the mishap was attempted selfabortion. The accident victim was arrested.
Utah: A 17-year-old—living without electricity or running water in a rural area—was impregnated by an older man who is now facing charges of using her in child pornography. The girl paid another man $150 to beat her in the stomach. It didn’t work, but she was charged with criminal solicitation for murder. (It’s worth noting that at the time, there were only seven abortion providers in the entire state.)
Louisiana: This state has a law allowing abortion clinics to be shut down for any violation of any regulation no matter how minor. Not surprisingly, there are a whole bunch of edicts that apply solely to abortion providers. So far, a clinic in New Orleans has been forced to close.
Kansas: When Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in 2009, a family physician offered to continue performing abortions at his Wichita clinic. She was barraged with threats and harassment. The U.S. Department of Justice tried to get a restraining order on one antichoice extremist who threatened to kill her, but a federal judge denied the request. Kansas now has only one licensed abortion clinic, in Highland Park.
Virginia: This state uses legal harassment to run abortion providers out of business. In addition, antichoice zealots have been trying to interfere with the U.S. Department of Health’s decision to allow abortion clinics to operate. If the antichoice advocates succeed, at least 17 of 22 clinics will have to shut their doors.
Mississippi: This state has only one abortion clinic and Governor Phil Bryant recently signed a bill that would effectively shut it down. Meanwhile, Rennie Gibbs—a 15-year-old who gave birth to a stillborn baby—is now facing the possibility of life in prison. When prosecutors learned of her cocaine habit, they charged Gibbs with the “depravedheart murder” of her child.
Indiana: A woman who was abandoned by her boyfriend had two mental breakdowns then tried to commit suicide while pregnant. She later gave birth to a baby that survived only four days. The mother was charged with murder— an attempt not only to criminalize abortion but also to set the legal groundwork for prosecuting women for murder if they terminate their pregnancies.
Arizona: The ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project has called this state’s antiabortion law the “most extreme bill of its kind.” That’s because it cuts the time period for a legal abortion to 18 weeks since the government considers life to begin from the last day of the woman’s menstrual cycle. Not only does it defy science, but such an early cutoff date precludes the detection of any fetal abnormalities that might suggest an abortion is advisable. The bill also specifies a mandatory ultrasound—requiring insertion of a vaginal probe!—for anyone seeking an abortion. In addition, her doctor is obligated to show the ultrasound to the pregnant woman and provide her with a photo of the unborn baby.
Ohio: Legislation that would ban voluntarily terminating any pregnancy when the fetus has a heartbeat has passed the House and is pending in the Senate, but if the bill becomes law, it could essentially criminalize all abortions in this state. In many pregnancies, there’s a detectable heartbeat before a woman notices that her period is late.
South Dakota: In 2011, Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a law requiring a three-day waiting period as well as consultation with a registered antichoice pregnancy help center before a woman can have an abortion. Since there aren’t any antichoice centers willing to counsel abortion patients, the law in effect bans abortion. Planned Parenthood, which runs the only abortion clinic in the state, has been seeking an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced while its lawsuit is pending.
Meanwhile, nearly 36% of patients at Fargo, North Dakota’s only abortion clinic come from out of state, mostly South Dakota. And to avoid the hassle in Ohio, women have been traveling to clinics in Detroit. When it comes to getting a safe abortion, the name of the game is Musical States.