Numerous people have e-mailed asking us to post the new state logo that has been posted on the Internet. I don't know who created it. But it's right on target.
It sends a message to the world beyond our borders: We're so darn natural, that we don't let women make a choice to halt the natural course of pregnancy, because fetal rights outweigh women's rights in this state. So if you prize your right to control your reproductive life, and believe a woman's rights should not be subordinated to a fetus, then you should stay the hell out of Arkansas.
Thought: What progressive company owned by or employing women would move to Arkansas?
Meanwhile: The Washington Post says new law would make 1 in 10 abortions in Arkansas illegal.
News release on the jump.
Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters today that Sen. Jason Rapert's bill banning abortion after 12 weeks was "even more problematic" than Rep. Andy Mayberry's bill, which Beebe announced today that he would veto.
Beebe said he would wait for Rapert's bill to reach his desk but added that it would "be kind of naive not to acknowledge [that] I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to do on a bill that's even more problematic than the one I already vetoed. But I won't tell you officially until that time."
As for the veto of Rep. Andy Mayberry's bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, Beebe reiterated that he believed the law was unconstitutional and hoped that his statement released today would "send the right message" to members, who can override the veto with a simple majority.
* 20TH-WEEK ABORTION BAN: Rep. Andy Mayberry's bill to ban several dozen late-term abortions in Arkansas every year by making them illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no consideration for a mother's health or the grave fetal problems that prompt these abortions. The bill is based on the disputed theory of fetal pain and using the work of a doctor who says his work has nothing to do with abortion. Not that facts matter. UPDATE: The action today gave House concurrence to a Senate amendment to allow rape and incest exceptions. They were added 80-10, which completes action on the bill. Gov. Mike Beebe has indicated constitutional objections, but hasn't said if he'll sign it or not.
* CASTLE DOCTRINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
Sen. Gary Stubblefield's bill allows a woman to kill someone she believes is threatening the well-being of her fetus. No retreat is necessary. She may shoot on perception of what she "reasonably believes" is a threat sufficient for use of force. REMINDER: Sen. Jim Hendren has a bill coming to push definition of unborn child up to the zygote stage, opening the door for fetus-defense shootings within hours after sex. Be warned. CORRECTION: Stubblefield's bill already had the zygote covered. Hendren's bill, in addition to changing the definition of child for the criminal code, also opens the door to wrongful death lawsuits from the moment an egg is fertilized. Women already had a right of self-defense. Bill described as effort to close gap in law, apparently based on an isolated case in Michigan. UPDATE: It passed 93-0.
* 12TH WEEK ABORTION BAN: Jason Rapert goes Andy Mayberry eight weeks better with a bill that prohibits abortion if a hearbeat can be detected. Rape, incest and fetal abnormalities are excepted, among other amendments. The bill is more clearly unconstitutional than Mayberry's, a version of which has won approval from one lower court. The U.S. Supreme Court rulings in multiple cases still say that states may not prohibit a woman's right to choose an abortion before the ability of a fetus to live outside the womb, generally around 24 weeks. Rep. Ann Clemmer, who once claimed to be a Rockefeller Republican, described this bill, unbelievably, as middle ground and a compromise. It would be the most far-reaching limitation on abortion rights in the country with the 12-week cutoff, except for what she called "extreme" circumstances. She called it also a way to "rein in elective, late-term abortions." There's no way to describe this but a bald-faced lie because it would ban hundreds of early term abortions.
Rep. John Edwards spoke against the bill, beginning by saying, "I support the Constitution." The rule of law is important, he said. Courts have ruled on the subject more than once, he said. He said he had decided "to trust women on this issue and place my faith in the Constitution."
Rep. Kim Hammer said there's a higher court than the Supreme Court and "it is ruled by God." He said the bill protected women who are victims. "I ask you to protect that baby ... from becoming a victim."
Rep. Homer Lenderman, who voted for the Mayberry bill, said Arkansas Right to Life does not support the bill and he doesn't either, because it's unconstitutional and would cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in legal fees. Rep. Bob Ballinger said Right to Life also did not oppose the bill and he said he and others would take defense of the case "pro bono." He used the favorite anti-abortion argument that slavery was once allowed as was segregation. He said people who are "pro-life" have "no choice" but to challenge the law.
Rep. Patti Julian said the bill takes choices away from women. She related how a "pro-life" obstetrician had asked her why the legislature was spending time and money to litigate decided issues.
UPDATE: Bill passed 68-20, with two present. It goes to the governor after the Senate concurs in House amendments. He has said repeatedly that it's unconstitutional. He's unlikely to sign it. But, given the vote, will he veto it?
Here's the roll call. The nays:
C. Armstrong E. Armstrong J. Dickinson J. Edwards Ferguson Fielding
Hodges Julian Leding Love McElroy McGill
Murdock Nickels Perry Sabin D. Whitaker Williams
ON THE JUMP: Comment from the Center for Reproductive Rights:
If this account is accurate, why vote at all? Just let Burris designate which bills will become law and which will not.
UPDATE I: Goins elaborates that Burris ruled he had recognized another legislator to present a new bill before the motion for a roll call was uttered. Burris moved mighty quickly.
UPDATE II: Two wrongs make a right. An eyewitness said that on one occasion during interminable efforts to pass anti-abortion bills in 2011, Public Health Chair Linda Tyler (defeated by Rapert for Senate last year) gaveled a meeting to adjournment immediately after ruling a voice vote had failed to pass one abortion bill (the particular one I can't pin down). She exited the room as anti-abortion legislators tried to call for a roll call.
UPDATE III: Big day for fetuses. The committee also, as expected, endorsed Rep. Andy Mayberry's bill to ban most abortions at the 20th week of pregnancy. It was amended to include a rape and incest exception. It provides no exceptions for fetal anomalies, the primary reason for the 46 abortions performed at this stage in 2011 nor protection for the health of the mother, only to save her life.
UPDATE IV: AP reports that House Speaker Davy Carter will send the unconstitutional Rapert bill back to committee because of complaints over Burris' refusal to have a roll call. I suspect is has the requisite votes if enough members attend, though that is sometimes a challenging if.
UPDATE V: KARK reports the governor has made up his mind on the abortion bills, but says he'll let the legislature vote without influence from him. He's a lawyer. He knows that the U.S. Supreme Court has, to date, ruled repeatedly and clearly that both the Rapert and Mayberry bills are unconstitutional because they prohibit abortions before viability of the fetus.
UPDATE VI: The Public Health Committee will meet after adjournment today and take another bite at Rapert's unconstitutional apple. Roll call or not, ultimately approved or not it will remain unconstitutional.
UPDATE VII: The Committee met briefly and quietly. Roll was called. 11 votes, the minimum for passage, were cast for the bill. There were five nays. It moves to the floor. And, if enacted, to court.
The Guns and Fetuses session of the Arkansas legislature continues today. Word is that Rep. Andy Mayberry will amend his abortion ban beginning with the 20th week of pregnancy to allow for abortions in cases of rape and incest.
As written, the bill provided an exception only to save the life of the mother or avoid "irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function."
Rape and incest exceptions have been the holdup for the bill in Senate committee, which has the bill this morning. There is NO exception still for abortions sought in the case of fetal abornmalities, the primary reason for later term abortions in the first place. Only a small number are performed in Arkansas each year.
The new exceptions don't cure the constitutional problems with the bill. The U.S. Supreme Court has held repeatedly that states may not ban abortions before viability of the fetus — roughly 24 weeks. But a district court has approved a 20-week limit in Arizona, a decision now on appeal.
PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE UPDATE: The Senate committee delayed action today on Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's bill to require drug testing of people receiving unemployment benefits. This idea — thoroughly repudiated as a useful tool in a Florida rollout — foundered at least temporarily until there can be a study of its cost. Higher than benefits, for sure. Let's drug test legislators while we're at it. And require legislative polygraphs, too, on a range of issues: Have they ever taken illegal drugs; driven while intoxicated; paid for an abortion; cheated on income taxes.
UPDATE II: James Owen reports that the committe endorsed Mayberry's amended bill. Testimony replayed the House events, with Mayberry playing a video of his child, who was born with spina bifida, emotional but irrelevant. Current law does not require ANYONE to have an abortion. But Mayberry's bill would prevent others from exercising choice, including in cases where there's a medical certainty the fetus would not survive outside the womb. If passed by the Senate and allowed to become law by the governor, who's expressed reservations, it will be challenged in court as unconstitutional.
The bill was approved on a voice vote. Only Sen. Linda Chesterfield could be audibly heard to express a "no" vote.
It occurred to me in the middle of the night what the game may be on Sen. Jason Rapert's unconstitutional bill to ban abortions from 12 weeks of a pregnancy on.
I think he knows it's unconstitutional. I think he knows it will be quickly mooted by a lawsuit if it passes. I don't think he cares how much money the state will pay in the process or the offense being done to women's medical rights. Fetuses, even microscopic potential fetuses in the hours after sex, are more important to the anti-abortion crowd than women.
I think this part of the bill is the key:
20-16-1307. Tolling of effective date.
If a state or federal court of competent jurisdiction voids a provision of this subchapter as unconstitutional, the effective date of that provision shall be tolled until that provision has been upheld as valid by an appellate tribunal.
This embodies the same philosophy in the constitutional amendment by which Arkansas prohibited state expenditures on abortion. That amendment also is aimed at making abortion illegal in Arkansas should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned and power to prohibit abortions given to the state. It says life, from conception, must be protected to the extent allowed by the federal constitution. Rapert's bill contains a more specific failsafe, a statutory complement to execute the amendment at least in part come the day a Religionist Republican Supreme Court takes women's rights away.
This type of legislating opens up all kinds of opportunities for the Arkansas legislature. We could pass laws to permit school segregation, should an appellate tribunal ever allow it. We could pass laws permitting discrimination on the basis of gender, age or religion, should a federal court ever see the light. We could legalize debtors' prisons and incarceration without trial, should the namby pambys on the Supreme Court ever see the light. These bills would be as empty legally as Rapert's, but the field is rich with opportunities to score points with the base.
Nonetheless, it's useful to have articles such as this from Stephens Media in which a law professor underscores the point.
It's also worth, again, underscoring Rapert's dishonesty. For two years he claimed the original version of this bill wouldn't require invasive transvaginal probes to find a heartbeat. It did. Worse than that is this bodacious Rapert whopper:
Doctors generally consider a fetus to be viable at 23 or 24 weeks. No state currently bans abortions as early as 12 weeks, but Rapert told the House committee that if Arkansas were to adopt such a ban, it would withstand a court challenge.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed states to prohibit abortions before viability,” Rapert told the panel.
He said his bill was “vetted by legal scholars” but did not name them.
[Theresa] Beiner, who teaches constitutional law at UALR, said the court has never issued such a ruling.
“This all comes from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where viability became the touchstone of when you could begin to prohibit abortions,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t regulate abortions before viability, but it’s going to be regulation, it’s not going to be prohibition.”
Regulation and prohibition are two different things. Rapert knows this. He's glorying in the possibility Arkansas will defy the law and that some miracle will upend decades of court guidance. He simply lies. Do it often enough — and if the Stepford Republicans repeat the lie enough — you might convince a lot of people you're telling the truth.
Arkansas legislators took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Those who vote for this bill are knowingly violating that oath, just as the segs of Dixie did in the 1950s and 1960s. Backers of Andy Mayberry's 20-week abortion ban have a tiny shred of cover, in a decision at a district court in Arizona not applicable in Arkansas, where appellate precedent still applies. That one, too, is unconstitutional.
Dr. Curtis Lowery, chairman of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, expanded on his testimony yesterday before the House public health committee on what Sen. Jason Rapert's bill to prevent abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected would mean for women.
Rapert's bill, as well as the bill that Rep. Andy Mayberry will bring before the Senate public health committee next week to ban abortions from the 20th week of pregnancy, make no exclusions for fetal anomalies; it does, however, allow abortion to save the life of the mother. But Lowery asks, who makes the decision whether the abortion is life-saving?
For example: If a woman with a congenital heart problem is told she has a 50-50 chance of surviving delivery and choses to terminate the pregnancy, is that covered under the bill? Or will a court later declare that because she had a 50 percent chance of surviving, the doctor is guilty of a felony? Medical decisions such as these are always based on percentages. Who's to judge which percentage is allowable?
The bill also would require women who present with a rupture of the membrane protecting the fetus, thus causing its lungs to stop developing, from choosing to abort what is medically known as an inevitable miscarriage. The physical danger to the pregnant woman in this situation — not to mention the psychological damage — is that she will develop a uterine infection. Unless she is less than 12 weeks pregnant (under Rapert’s bill) or less than 20 weeks pregnant (under Mayberry’s), her doctor will have to wait until that infection becomes systemic and threatens her life to intervene.
Lowery said UAMS doctors see about 150 obstetrical patients a year who have suffered a premature rupture of the membrane protecting the developing fetus, something that can happen at any time in a pregnancy.
UAMS' genetic counselors and physicians now offer counseling to women on the kinds of anomalies their fetuses have so they can make an informed choice on whether to carry the infant to term. Under these bills, a woman may discover the fetus has abnormalities of the sort described in the letter published here yesterday about why a surgical nurse decided to terminate — “encephalocele” and “holoprosencephaly" — and be required to carry the fetus until it dies in utero or is born. The letter urges readers not to look those terms up because it will break hearts. I'd say some people need to look those terms up to see what these women are faced with.
UAMS offers the largest prenatal diagnosis program in the state. State law prohibits the medical center from performing elective abortions, so its students do not get training in the procedure. Students who want to learn the procedure must be trained elsewhere. Under the new abortion bills, UAMS would be further restricted in its ability to perform what the U.S. Supreme Court has defined as non-elective, legal abortions, and its accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education could be withdrawn. Pregnant women who need a non-elective abortion would have to travel outside Arkansas, which for many poor women would not be an option.
Mayberry’s bill gives a woman until 20 weeks, unlike the 12 weeks Rapert's would impose, to have an abortion. But unlike Rapert's, it makes it more difficult to obtain an abortion after the gestation cut-off, excluding abortion in the case of rape, incest or psychological threat, even suicidal ideation. Lowery will testify against it before the Senate public health committee next week. Neither bill is constitutional, because the fetus cannot survive outside the womb until 23-25 weeks, the standard of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Legislators have heard from several women who have chosen to deliver infants with serious health problems, including fatal ones, who've said it was right for them. What about women for whom it would not be right?* See a video about a Nebraska woman who was not allowed to terminate her pregnancy after the fetal sac ruptured here.
*Oh, yes, forgot. Mayberry said these are immoral women.
I am a 38-year-old, professional woman and I’ve had an abortion.
All the recent talk from the legislature about abortion and women’s rights brings up thoughts about my choice to have an abortion. When I hear the things Jason Rapert says about abortion, it makes me think he thinks that the women who are doing this are slutty people with low or no morals. That’s just not the case. I see myself as a Christian. I believe in God but I also believe everyone has a choice. I chose to have an abortion.
continued on the jump ...
His SB 134 would require a fetal heartbeat check for women seeking an abortion. Detection of a heartbeat would make performance of an abortion a crime by the doctor, except in cases of rape and incest and to save a woman's life. Rapert has said he will amend the bill to require only external hearbeat monitoring. This would mean an extension of the period in which abortions would be possible to as much as 10 weeks. In its unamended form, the bill requires a transvaginal probe in the earliest stage of pregnancy. Heartbeats can be detected by this method as early as 5.5 weeks.
Forty years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent still holds that a state may not ban abortions before fetal viability. That has been held to be at least 24 weeks, though a case is moving through the courts that could reduce that period to 20 weeks. Amended or unamended, Rapert's bill would impose the nation's strictest abortion ban. It would be instantly subject to court challenge and, unless the U.S. Supreme Court has a change of heart, be declared unconstitutional. Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel have both expressed concerns about the bill and the amendment on transvaginal probes, while potentially making the bill more palatable to some people, does nothing to address its core unconstitutionality.
The committee has taken a recess and soon will resume. I only wish it could hear from the Air Force pilot who described his family's difficult pregnancy and decision to terminate it. His wife would have been forced to carry a gravely afflicted fetus to term by Rapert's legislation.
UPDATE: Rapert and Rep. Ann Clemmer introduced the amendment, which they said would essentially ban abortions at 12 weeks rather than 6 (and use an abdominal ultrasound only rather than a transvaginal probe). Questions about fetal anomalies went unanswered. Rapert repeatedly lied that the bill would pass muster with current jurisprudence, including Roe v. Wade. In a news release, he said that since Roe v. Wade allows states to "regulate" abortions in the second trimester, that his bill is constitutional. But it and other decisions say state bans in the first TWO trimesters are impermissible.
Questioning was surprisingly timid from pro-choice Rep. Greg Leding, who stated that he was “much more comfortable with the amended version of this bill.”
A UAMS doctor testified that the law would interfere with the management of high-risk pregnancies. He called it a “violation of relationship between patient and doctor” and said that it would put physicians and women in harms way. He also stated that the bill doesn’t adequately address fetal anomalies and other health emergencies. Finally, he testified that the law would threaten accreditation and potentially force UAMS to send residents out of state for training (with no budget to do so).
An anti-abortion counselor testified on behalf of another counselor not in town. Her story: she had an abortion for medical reasons. This led her to suffer and cry to herself for 12 years, and she continues to miss the baby. The counselor testifying in her stead said that she worked with many women who still suffered from the anguish of "being able to make that decision." She said it kept some women from pursuing their career and education and might lead to becoming self-destructive.
Ob/gyn doctor Janet Cathey (who has previously testified before the committee on the Mayberry bill) testified that the bill does not make sufficient exception for congenital anomalies. "If I don't understand as a physician, it's not very well defined," she said. She testified that doctors cannot diagnose congenital anomalies before 12 weeks. She also made a point that hasn't been made enough: the bill targets poor, disadvantaged, and younger women. Finally, she explained that the scientific research suggests that most women do not have post-traumatic stress after an abortion.
UPDATE: The bill passed by a voice vote and is on to the House. Rapert's news release on his victory said one Democrat, Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, had supported his bill.
Clemmer said “the purpose of this bill is to make abortion safe, legal, and more rare.” Actually, no. She wants abortion to be illegal. The anti-abortion forces talked about preserving "choice." Really. Amazing. Choice is now shut at least at 12 weeks.
Clemmer also offended a number of people with her gross insensitivity. Heck, she's been pregnant. What's a few more weeks of pregnancy, she was heard to remark. Tell that to the surgical nurse who made the decision to end her pregnancy in the 21st week but would otherwise have been required to to continue a pregnancy with a fetus unable to survive outside the womb.
Gov. Mike Beebe sent his strongest signal to date that he might veto the legislation, which could explain the Democrats rolling over today (and probably on subsquent votes). "It's still bad. I think it's unconstitutional. If it gets to me, then to a large extent I'll be guided by that."
It IS unconstitutional. Clemmer's smug assertion that abortion remains illegal until 12 weeks overlooks the clear dictates of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which prohibits state bans pre-viability. Rapert has in the past cited a scrap of a non-pertinent clauses in the Casey decision as supporting his view, but it requires ignoring the totality of the opinion.
I received this essay on the topic yesterday.
Ten months ago my wife and I learned that she was pregnant, and we couldn’t have been more excited. We made a baby budget, bought parenting books, and paid careful attention to everything she ate. We were ready to be parents.
At nineteen weeks we had the ultrasound that would tell us our baby’s gender. Our best friends were having a boy, and we were anxious to know. Within moments we were looking at our baby girl for the first time. Her name was Amelia.
Imagine how we felt when our ultrasound technician stopped smiling. I am a pilot in the Air Force. Even flying in combat over Iraq and Afghanistan, I had never fully understood the meaning of dread. Now I know, dread is what occupies the 15 minutes between an ultrasound and doctor’s return.
After a very long weekend, we were seen by a high risk specialist. Two new words were inked into our vocabulary: “encephalocele” and “holoprosencephaly.” Do not Google these terms; the results will break your heart. Of her numerous problems, these were the most serious. We had previously opted for every diagnostic test to ensure our baby’s health, and were one of the first couples in Arkansas to try a new screening of our baby’s chromosomes in blood taken from the mother. We had gotten a false negative. Amelia would not survive to term.
My wife is a surgical nurse, and our family is one of doctors, educators, and veterans. We knew the prognosis, what questions to ask, what every term and statistic meant. Regardless, I cannot adequately describe our grief, fear, and anger, or the agony of days spent on hold with insurance companies and hospitals.
The genetic counselors in the high risk pregnancy center were patient and understanding, but the situation was bleak. We could allow the baby to die naturally, but my wife could feel the tiny baby kicking and that constant reminder would be emotionally unbearable. There were several options for termination of the pregnancy. We chose the option that was safest.
We returned to the specialist center later and sat down in front of the ultrasound for the last time. The doctor placed a needle through my wife’s uterus to the baby’s heart, which stopped immediately. Two weeks later, our stillborn baby was delivered in a quiet delivery room. She weighed eight ounces, much smaller than I expected.
Many family friends and coworkers have since come forward with their own stories of abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths. We had never suspected. As one mentor put it to me, I had joined a secret fraternity of parents who had lost a baby.
A bill proposing a 20-week cut-off for terminating pregnancies in the State of Arkansas just passed the Arkansas House of Representatives. It is arbitrary and wrong.
Our first ultrasound happened at nineteen weeks, as is the case within most pregnancies. It is usually the first opportunity for doctors to diagnose serious problems. By the time we were seen by a specialist, we were past twenty weeks. Recently a coworker came to my wife in tears, sharing her story for the first time. Her own ultrasound had revealed her baby’s fatal kidney failure and she faced the same gut-wrenching decision.
The Arkansas legislation establishes criminality at the very moment when parents and their doctors have to face painful reality. The bill is a product of ignorance and insensitivity to the suffering of parents and their unborn children. This legislation demands that grieving mothers carry their baby as long as possible, without exception. It declares that politicians know better than medical experts in every situation, even ours. This is not an argument about unwanted children. It is about the right of parents and their doctors to make educated and moral decisions with all the facts, not with a calendar.
The debate about abortion is personal for us. We wanted our child. We do not vote in Arkansas, we are here because I am stationed in Little Rock, and it is where we have to seek medical treatment. Military families like mine with spouses deployed and concerns of their own are subject to this unconscionable law as well.
It is unfair to demand that parents like us come forward with stories of personal loss, now in the state Capitol or later in courthouses. The decision we had to make was painful, personal, and ethical. My outrage as a husband and would-be father will not permit me to remain silent.
(Editor's Note: By way of shorthand, some articles about Mayberry's bill say it will provide exceptions to save the life "and health" of the mother. The bill is far more restrictive than a general "health" exception. This is the precise language on the exception short of imminent death:
However, subdivision (a)(1) of this section does not apply if, in reasonable medical judgment, the pregnant woman has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman, not including psychological or emotional conditions.
There is no exception for rape or incest, a stumbling block for some legislators. These serious health risks should have at least equal concern. In this context, Sen. Jason Rapert's bill to ban abortions after 10 weeks is beyond the pale.)
Following is the post of the day — maybe ever — by reader "Big Momma." She responded to a comment on our item about Sen. Jason Rapert's decision to remove mandated transvaginal probes of women seeking abortions in the earliest stage of pregnancy from his abortion ban bill. That's right. He amended a bill to take out something that he'd denied for two years his legislation required.
Big Momma responded to a question from a male reader who said "if a woman has an abortion, aren't all sorts of things stuck up in her to take the unborn scientific glob of human matter? What's one more thing?" She wrote:
Ok B-Rock, I'll bite.
First, let's work on terminology. I assume we're all adults here, right? These legislators are wanting to require a probe stuck in a woman's vagina. Vagina, vagina, vagina. I know men have a hard time saying the word, in spite of their endless fascination with the region, but if you can't say "vagina" then you probably ought not be legislating it.
Now, let's look at your logic. Since a woman having an abortion is having all sorts of sundry objects stuck "up in there," then what's one more, right? Your argument assumes that a woman's vagina is something akin to the Lincoln Tunnel. By your same rationale, then, a sexually active woman shouldn't really mind being raped, since if she's had one penis (or if you prefer, Mr. Peepee or a wee wee since "penis" may also be hard to say) stuck "up in there," then really, why not a few more?
Perhaps that's a bit extreme, so let's go real world. I am currently in my first trimester of a planned pregnancy. This is not my first rodeo, so I have other children at home who rely upon me every single day. I also have a husband who I think likes having me around. Soon, my OB will discuss with me some options for genetic testing that I can choose to have done in the next couple of weeks. There are some new tests with 99% accuracy in detecting genetic abnormalities, some of which mean certain death for an unborn child. Since I am now, at the ripe age of 35, of "advanced maternal age," that means that this time around, my child is slightly more likely to have some of these genetic issues.
Hypothetically speaking, were one of those tests to come back positive, naturally my husband and I would seek second, third and fourth opinions. We'd meet with specialists. And then we'd have to make some difficult decisions. Let me tell you plainly: The news would be devastating, but I know in my heart that I could not continue a pregnancy where I knew that this baby would die shortly after birth or would be born sleeping. I personally am not able, and I am not willing to risk my other children watching their mother go through a doomed pregnancy - and living the aftermath - if I have some other option.
So, back to these legislators. After all of this agony, they want me to jump through one final hoop: being violated by a cold metal probe to verify a heartbeat. After all, I've had any number of other tests done, blood drawn, objects in my vagina, so why not subject me to one more, right? I shouldn't mind. It shouldn't bother me to be violated one last time, to be shamed by my decision, made with sound medical advice, discussion with my husband and yes, even prayer. Why not one last probe?
Perhaps it is difficult for men to understand this because they cannot carry life, and understand what agony it must be for a woman to be forced to carry a pregnancy in which the tiny baby inside her kicks not because they have a working brain, but because they have a functional spinal column, and no brain to support life outside the womb. Knowing that the moment they push that life into the world will not be one of joy, but instead one of knowing that the child's life will be counted in minutes, or hours and not years. Or perhaps that there will be years, but those years will be spent in excruciating pain. Some women are brave enough for this, and I commend them for their strength. I am not, and I cannot sacrifice myself when my other children also deserve to have their mother.
Do people abuse the ability to get an abortion? Absolutely. Some get abortions for far less noble reasons. On the other hand, some people abuse their right to own a gun and go and kill their neighbors, and yet, as you aptly pointed out, the rights of responsible gun owners should not be infringed upon due to the bad acts of others. Likewise, should my right to make a responsible decision about my reproductive rights be infringed upon because some women are not responsible and abuse the ability to get an abortion as a means of birth control? Let's not be selective when we discuss constitutional rights - I'll stay out of your gun safe if you stay out of my vagina.
PS — I'm sure Big Momma understands this, but in the event there's any confusion, a reader suggests I elaborate. The debate here isn't so much about requiring a fetal hearbeat test. Such tests are medically unnecessary in seeking an abortion and have been required by the anti-abortion lobby in other states to discourage women from having an abortion. Here, the point of Rapert's bill is not to monitor hearbeats. The point is that, when a heartbeat IS detected, an abortion is prohibited.
I hope to have a report shortly on Senate committee consideration of Rep. Andy Mayberry's bill to ban abortions beginning with the 20th week of pregnancy, a significant shortening of the pre-viability period in which the U.S. Supreme Court has barred states from banning abortion. An Arizona 20-week bill has been upheld at the federal district court level, however, and is now on appeal.
Democratic Rep. Butch Wilkins of Jonesboro, an abortion opponent who has his own bill to prevent private health insurance exchange coverage of abortions, tells Leslie Peacock that he's been informed Mayberry's bill will not clear the Senate committee without an exception for rape and incest. Mayberry had made it clear in the House committee that his bill did not contain these exceptions. "A senator came to me this morning asking questions," Wilkins said. Wilkins' bill was endorsed by the Senate committee this morning and headed to final passage.
The Senate committee is controlled by Republicans. But Republicans, after some infamous political pratfalls over rape exceptions in abortion during the last campaign, have been counseled by strategists to avoid getting to the rape/abortion quagmire. Even Sen. Jason Rapert, with the most far-reaching abortion ban imaginable, has taken pains to emphasize his ban of most abortions would still allow rape abortions and even for some extraordinary medical emergencies in addition to life of the mother.
UPDATE: KARK says there was no vote on Mayberry's bill in committee today. He was quoted as saying he needed to speak individually with senators.
Sen. Jason Rapert, in an attempt to save his unconstitiutional bill to ban abortions pre-viability of a fetus — a direct contravention of 40 years of federal court precedent — is preparing to omit requiring the invasive transvaginal probe that he had previously insisted for two years wasn't required by the bill.
Rapert now says he wants the bill to require only an external ultrasound for women seeking an abortion. Don't forget this is medically unnecessary and is meant only to find the presence of the heartbeat to ban women from having an abortion. Fetus rights over women's rights.
This would give a pass on abortions for women up to 10 weeks or so of pregnancy, a time when only an invasive probe can detect the early heartbeat of a tiny forming fetus. This is still 10-14 weeks shy of the time period in which the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly said the state may not ban abortions. Rep. John Burris, the Republican chair of the Public Health Committee who tabled Rapert's bill today, says removal of the probe makes the bill more palatable and that he is unconcerned about the threat of a lawsuit (and presumably unconcerned about the certain loss of state money defending the indefensible.)
This proposed change takes the physical probe out of women's vaginas but it still inserts the state squarely into their uteruses in a time period prohibited by the U.S. Supreme Court. Do Republicans care about the Constitutional rights of women and their health and medical autonomy as much as they care about guns?
I'm afraid I know the answer. A group that thinks guns in church are necessary isn't particularly surprising in a desire to criminalize a doctor and oppress a woman who doesn't want to complete a pregnancy (and often has sound medical reasons, including her health and fetal abnormalities) to feel that way.
A reminder that Rapert is not to be trusted. When he introduced this legislation two years ago he angrily denied that it would require a transvaginal probe in early stages of pregnancy to detect a hearbeat, as I wrote then. He continued to insist that to me as recently as last week. He now tacitly concedes that he was wrong. He was either lying or as sadly misinformed about medical practice and pregnancy as this and other Republican anti-abortion legislation indicate. Neither explanation is a recommendation for the slightly amended legislation.
UPDATE AND SPEAKING OF JASON RAPERT: Gene Lyons has written the best commentary yet on Rapert and his national star turn on a Tea Party video. He makes clear what's wrong about just about everything Rapert said, while expressing a little personal warmth to the senator who once hailed up the road from Lyons in Perry County. Read on the jump:
Thank goodness the people in Jonesboro and Craighead Co. voted for Harold Copenhaver and defeated…
Well put, Hackett!
You know, I watched that youtube of Curtis and everytime I listen to "those" people
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