Happytown: More state bills attack reproductive rights

Three new initiatives clear Tallahassee subcommittees this session


Last week we grimaced and grabbed our crotches when we saw that state-nobody-cares-about North Dakota was putting on its big misogynist pants and kicking women back to the back alleys of yore. On March 26, Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed no less than three anti-abortion bills into law: one of them the most severe ban in the country (no abortions after six weeks), another pushing an outright ban (or personhood amendment) to a public referendum. The notion, of course, is to have North Dakota make a name for itself by bringing abortion back to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to overturn Roe v. Wade; the state is stockpiling its budgetary surplus to fund the legal challenge. Oh, and also to close the state’s lone abortion clinic in Fargo.

“I can’t even imagine what else they could think of,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told Mother Jones. “Just putting women behind bars?”

Thank God we don’t live in North Dakota, right? Well, we’re not as far from it as we’d like. Last week was also a banner week for anti-choice legislation in Tallahassee, with no less than three initiatives clearing their respective subcommittees.

House Bill 845 would ban abortions that stemmed from race or gender selection, although there is actually no proof of that happening at all. House Bill 759, “Offenses Against Unborn Children,” effectively gives a fetus the same rights as a person, specifically in cases of violence. (like, what? Abortion?) And then there’s House Bill 1129, the “Infants Born Alive” bill that provides for the care of fetuses that miraculously survive abortion procedures. It’s quite a rhetorical web, says Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando president and CEO Jenna Tosh. While she calls the race selection one “completely offensive” (noting that only one state, Arizona, currently has a similar law on the books), she says that the surviving fetus bill is a little more nuanced. There aren’t many late-term abotion procesures performed. Also, it could affect other legislation by recasting a “viable fetus” as an “unborn child.”

“We’re just trying to work as quickly as we can to work behind the scenes and make it not a terrible bill,” she says. “It’s a bill without a whole lot of precedent.”

Perhaps as a counterweight, PPGO spent most of March 28 handing out emergency contraception (or Plan B) pills to women for free. Tosh says that the two local clinics handed out a total of 136 free doses on Thursday, which is awesome when you consider that the morning-after pill goes for about $50 at the pharmacy ($35 regularly at Planned Parenthood clinics). The medicine was paid for out of the Susan R. Idtensohn Women in Need fund, she adds.

On a lighter note, the Emergency Contraception Day did produce a technological first for the organization.

We got Instagrammed for the first time,” Tosh says proudly.


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