Protecting Women from Themselves in Mississippi

Posted on April 26, 2012

PoliticusUSA, April 26, 2012 by Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Yeah, I’m afraid that’s the storyline; that’s what they’re selling and it doesn’t get any better than that – nobody has accused the conservative mind of intelligence lately and I guess the assumption is that the rest of us are as gullible as their base. Just think: someday, nobody is going to believe any human being said such crazy shit. But they are saying it, and we have to fight it. We can laugh about it later.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant really, really wants Americans to believe that if liberals really cared about women’s health issues, we’d join him in stripping women of the right to make their own healthcare decisions. I know, it’s a strange way of thinking but Bryant, having successfully pulled of a TRAP amendment that virtually eliminates abortion in his state despite the guarantees of Roe v. Wade, is anxious to croon about his success, arguing that “Barack Obama and all those on the left” are hypocrites for opposing it.

Before going on, we should look at the sad history of the Mississippi GOP’s war on women’s reproductive rights:

First we had a ballot initiative, Measure 26 (The Personhood Amendment), which would have, if passed (it fortunately did not) defined zygotes, embryos—even a fertilized egg—as a person. Women would have been unable to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest – even if her life is in danger, and IUDs, birth control pills and other forms of contraception would have become illegal. Personhood USA blamed Planned Parenthood for their defeat – really, they should blame voter sanity – after all, nearly 60 percent of them voted against Measure 26.

When that failed, Mississippi Republicans tried it again: House Concurrent Resolution 61 aka “The Right to Life Amendment of 2012,” (HC 61) would “provide that the right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; to provide that the world ‘person’ applies to all human beings from conception to natural death.” Fortunately, this bill died in committee on March 6, 2012.

Then came the TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) legislation, the intent of which is to regulate abortion clinics out of existence. It’s important to realize here that Mississippi Republicans had already tried to make abortion as difficult and humiliating a process as could be imagined through all sorts of extra regulations attached only to abortion clinics:

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a state-licensed facility, already has unnecessary hoops to jump through. State law requires the clinic to provide patients with a 24-hour waiting period, an ultrasound and state-mandated counsel that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, is meant to discourage women from having abortions. The counsel must take place in-person 24 hours in advance, forcing many women traveling from distant counties to budget an overnight stay and take off from work or miss several days of school.

But none of that was enough to discourage women from making their own healthcare decisions. When women insist on being uppity in this fashion, the only thing a patriarchal, totalitarian-minded good old boy can do, is take the decision out of their hands. Having said that he plans to make his state abortion-free (the state already has only one abortion clinic), Governor Bryant signed Mississippi House Bill 1390 on April 16, 2012, which requires all physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

Bryant said: “I believe that all human life is precious, and as governor, I will work to ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi,” Apparently, the lives of mothers aren’t important in Mississippi. State Rep. Adrienne Wooten (D-Jackson) told the men in the House:”Now, if you’re that concerned about unplanned pregnancies, go get snipped.” Unsurprisingly, they didn’t jump at the chance.

Appearing on American Family Radio’s Today’s Issues with American Family Association president Tim Wildmon and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins  the other day, Bryant defended his bill, not by making a cogent argument in favor of stripping women of their reproductive rights but by attacking liberals as baby-killers for opposing him.

Watch the video from Right Wing Watch:

Bryant: You would think that Barack Obama and all those on the left that love so much to talk about women’s health care would rush to support this bill, would just say, ‘absolutely we want the strongest health care, we want admissions privileges, we want that women that is going through that abortion for her life and safety to be paramount,’ well it should be the paramount of the child.

Even if you believe in abortion, the hypocrisy of the left that now tried to kill this bill, that says that I should have never signed it, the true hypocrisy is that their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb. It doesn’t really matter, they don’t care if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, that if something goes wrong that a doctor can’t admit them to a local hospital, that he’s not even board certified. We passed that bill and I think you’ll see other states follow and when that happens at least these fly-in abortionists are going to be regulated under the state laws of the Medical Procedures Act here in the state of Mississippi as they should be across the nation.

Perkins: Well the driving factor is profit for many of them.

Right, Mr. Perkins, because it’s the Republicans who are talking about taxing abortions, so it must be Democrats who are profit driven.

And of course, opposition to his TRAP bill says nothing of the sort, and even his own fellow Missisippians showed their grasp of the issues by voting down the personhood amendment last year – the simple fact is most Americans want access to abortion. And we might ask Gov. Bryant if Republicna concern is women’s health, why, as Lauren Barbato in the Ms. Magazine blog points out, Mississippi “holds both the highest teen pregnancy and poverty rates in the U.S. as of 2011, and remains one of the lowest-performing states in the education and health-care sectors.”

Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood responded:

“Make no mistake, this law is based on a political agenda, not medical necessity. In yet another shortsighted attempt to ban abortion in Mississippi, Governor Bryant and lawmakers are putting their ideology above the health and safety of Mississippi women. This law is bad policy and endangers women’s health.”

As Richards went on to say,

“Mississippi voters rejected ‘personhood’ at the ballot box because they did not want to see the government involved in personal decisions that are best left up to a woman in consultation with her family, her doctor, and her faith. Now, politicians are again trying to reach into complex personal decisions with a bill that could have very broad consequences for women’s health.”

The true hypocrisy, contrary to what Bryant says, is that all this legislation is directed towards women, even when Viagra kills more often than RU-486, even when outpatient surgery isn’t regulated to the extent abortion is. If Republican concerns were genuinely women’s health, they would be regulating the hell out of all outpatient surgery as well. But they don’t, and they aren’t. The Republican agenda is quite clear and Bryant seems to think we’re all idiots. And Perkins…well, what can you say about Perkins that he hasn’t already said himself?

Oh, and by the way, uppity women, don’t go thinking your birth control is safe: Planned Parenthood tells us that “In addition to the abortion law signed by Bryant today, on Tuesday the House passed a backdoor “personhood” amendment to a bill intended to protect Mississippi children.  If enacted, the amended bill could outlaw birth control, infertility treatments and all abortions — no exceptions.  After passing the House, Senate Bill 2771 is now in the Senate for a concurrence vote.”

Yeah, that Governor Bryant really loves women, right as he condemns them to sexual servitude and death. That’s what you get for defying a good old boy. As they say in the military, BOHICA – bend over, here it comes again.

The bill takes effect July 1, 2012.

Posted in: Mississippi