With 2 months of 2019 behind us, the social talking points for abortion continue to flood the headlines in Wisconsin and across the country.
For WI residents, shortly after the dust settled in Madison, Planned Parenthood of WI filed a federal lawsuit asking to repeal three specific laws, stating these laws make it difficult for women, particularly in rural areas, to receive abortions. The three laws coming under fire in the January 16 lawsuit all involve levels of medical care provided to women undergoing abortion procedures, specifically: 1) allowing nurses, not doctors, to perform abortions; 2) removing the requirement for women to see the same doctor two times when undergoing a medication abortion; and 3) removing the requirement that a doctor be physically present when dispensing abortion-causing drugs.
All situations have to at least have two sides. This is no different. According to Mel Barnes, the legal and policy director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, these laws are ‘unnecessarily restrictive.’ One unnecessarily restrictive example stated by Barnes is the perceived hardship which requires a woman to see the same doctor twice for the use of abortion-inducing drugs or requiring a doctor to be present for the prescription of those same pills. According to Barnes, “Currently, if you need to access abortion care in Wisconsin you’re almost certainly traveling to Madison or Milwaukee and making that trip twice. So, women in rural areas and women on the far northern area of our state are travelling a much longer distance.” Perhaps reminding Ms. Barnes of their recently opened facility in Sheboygan which was broadly heralded as the solution to women seeking access to abortion services in northeast Wisconsin, is in order.
Positioned on the other side of these topics we find Wisconsin Right to Life director, Heather Weininger and others who believe protective abortion laws express concerns for women’s health, safety, and level of care. Stating the current laws in our country (and state) allow for legal abortion, Weininger goes on to comment, ‘So, if a woman is going to go and seek that out, she needs to know that her health, and any consequences after this abortion, her safety is in consideration. And challenging these laws, it simply puts a woman in a dangerous situation.’
Meanwhile in New York
Unless you live under a rock, the news from the state of New York regarding the provision for late term abortions did not go unnoticed on the radar. On January 22 Governor Cuomo signed into law strong legal action protecting abortion rights, including late-term procedures. This removed the state’s previous 24 week abortion procedure limit. The passing of this sweeping abortion law boldly promotes the idea that abortion should be available for all nine months for various subjective reasons. Most surprising, the law dehumanizes a human before his or her birth.
Contemplating the New York law and reflecting on Weininger’s statement about putting women in dangerous situations brings us to Jennifer Irigoyen. The sad truth is that it took less than 2 weeks for the bipolar nature of New York’s law to be revealed for its contradictory nature. On February 3, Jennifer Irigoyen (and her 5 month old unborn baby) were brutally murdered by her angry boyfriend and father of her baby, Anthony Hobson. Witnesses quote Irigoyen as stating, ‘He’s going to kill the baby!’ as she fought for her life and the life of her unborn child. Released police reports indicated Hobson stabbed her several times in her neck and the left side of her stomach. The newly approved legislation ensures Hobson will not be prosecuted for any crime against the child, only for the death of Irigoyen.
The protection of women, whether associated with the process of undergoing a legal abortion, as expressed by Wisconsin residents opposing the Planned Parenthood lawsuit, or neglectfully demonstrated in the New York law, causes us to pause and ask some hard questions. Refer to last month’s blog for pondering starting points.
On to the Commonwealth of Virginia
Following on the heels of New York’s legislative action, Virginia House Bill 2491 took aim at a number of standing laws including 24-hour waiting periods and a mandate that second-trimester abortions take place in a hospital. The bill also challenged the current law which requires three physicians weighing in on third trimester abortions certifying that the continuation of a ‘pregnancy would likely cause the patients’ death or “substantially and irremediably impair” her mental or physical health.’
To make matters worse, delegate Kathy Tran poorly handled her responses on the House floor during questioning, but in doing so, she managed to peel back a layer of truth to reveal an agenda that clearly does not protect innocent, almost born little humans. The bill was killed but many in the state were left scratching their heads and wondering about the possible future of late term abortions in a State fondly referred to as the state for Lovers.
A March Talking Point
On March 29, the movie Unplanned is scheduled for release in theaters across the country. The movie is the dramatic true story of former Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson and her pro-life conversion. Johnson was the youngest clinic director in clinic history and had been involved in over 22,000 abortion decisions. Having been associated with the center in Bryan, Texas for 8 years, Johnson’s life dramatically changed when she was asked to assist in an ultrasound-guided abortion for a 13-week-old baby. The horrifying experience of watching a baby struggle for its life and ultimately succumbing was more than Johnson had bargained for and ultimately led to her resignation in October, 2009.
In an ironic twist, the Motion Picture Association of America recently assigned an “R” rating to this movie. The restricted rating prohibits filmgoers under the age of 17 from attending Unplanned without being accompanied by a parent or guardian. This film is not restricted because of profanity, nudity, sex or violence…except for the violence directly related to the abortion process. Although the “R” rating prohibits moviegoers from viewing this film without parental approval, several states allow young women under the age of 17 to legally obtain an actual abortion without parental involvement. This is difficult to understand.
Hopefully, good can come from these talking points and honest discussions about difficult topics will be out in the open. Hopefully, we can come to a place where being truly pro-woman, pro-support, and pro-love means genuine help for women and a step forward in caring for women in difficult circumstances.