Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2012
An aggressive campaign is being waged across the country as opponents seize every opportunity to deny women long-established constitutional protections.
In California, where limiting access to abortion and other reproductive services would be practically unthinkable, it can be easy to ignore the ceaseless attacks on women’s reproductive rights elsewhere.But an aggressive campaign to curtail those rights is being waged across the country as opponents seize every opportunity to deny women long-established constitutional protections.
In Mississippi, the hostile attitude toward abortion has left the state with only one abortion clinic. The procedures are reportedly performed by out-of-state physicians who have not been able to obtain practicing privileges at local hospitals. But the Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that requires abortion doctors to have such privileges, a backdoor way of closing the clinic; last week, a judge upheld the law but gave the clinic permission to stay open for now. The statedreason for the law was to protectwomen’s health, but that is transparently a pretext. The clinic has an agreement with a local hospital to provide emergency care if it should ever be needed.
Other legislatures have carried out their opposition to abortion through efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, the best known of the nation’s abortion providers. Earlier this month, a federal official ruled against an Indiana law that would have prevented women with Medicaid coverage from receiving care from the organization’s clinics. But it is already impermissible to use federal funds for abortion; the women with Medicaid coverage were receiving other health services, including cancer screenings. The official said the Indiana law illegally denied women the right to choose their own health provider.
Also this month, the North Carolina legislature overrode a veto by the governor in a new attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. A previous attempt was tossed out in federal court on the grounds that states cannot single out health providers simply because they provide abortions. The new law pretends that it’s not about Planned Parenthood, declaring instead that private providers of family-planning services cannot be state contractors for health services. Planned Parenthood is the only provider in North Carolina that fits that description. This latest attempt also is unlikely to survive a legal challenge, but even if it did, the law does nothing to stop abortions, which aren’t funded by the state. Instead, there would be less money for Planned Parenthood to provide such services as breast checkups, contraception and screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
These efforts come on the heels of similar moves in Arizona, Texas and other states — as well as the Republican-led vote last year in the House of Representatives to defund Planned Parenthood, which was blocked in the Senate.Abortion rights may be secure in California, but outside this state’s boundaries, they require vigilant defense from these continuing attacks.