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Last week’s passage of the “Let Women Die” Act capped off a year characterized by a number of abortion restricting bills.
Since Roe v. Wade has withstood decades of legal challenges, the next abortion laws won’t take on Roe v. Wade directly; rather, they’ll attempt to chip away at a woman’s right to bodily autonomy by eliminating funding, redefining “life,” and harassing doctors who provide abortions.
Federal law prohibits tax money from providing coverage for abortion services, but this hasn’t stopped states from cutting funding from clinics that refer women to places that offer abortions or that segregate the part of their operation that provides abortions from the part of their organization that provides preventive care.
The New York Times reports that Texas, under the leadership of now-Presidential candidate Rick Perry, chose to cut family planning funding by two-thirds. As a result, women’s health clinics around the state have closed their doors. Similar “budget cutting” measures have passed in several states.
Texas is also attempting to dissuade women from having abortions by forcing them to listen to a doctor describe a sonogram.
Ohio is debating a so-called “Heartbeat Bill” that would outlaw all abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which happens at around 6 weeks’ gestation (Roe v. Wade allows abortions to occur at any time before fetal viability, which happens around the twenty-second week).
Mississippi is allowing its voters to decide on an amendment that would define “personhood” as beginning at conception, which would outlaw all forms of abortion, throw into question the legality of hormonal birth control, and prevent women who are experiencing pregnancy complications from receiving life-saving care.
Time‘s Adam Cohen notes that not all states are going as far as Ohio, Texas, and Mississippi in confronting Roe v. Wade. The hottest trend among anti-choicers is pushing legislation that requires abortion-seeking women to listen to the fetal heartbeat before deciding to end their pregnancies. Michele Bachmann has introduced a bill at the federal level called The Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, which would require all women seeking abortion to listen to the balls of cells in their uteruses pulse before deciding on abortion. A national anti-choice group claims they’re planning on introducing heartbeat legislation in all fifty states over the course of the next year.
Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is in hot water for his obsession with destroying the life of murdered abortion provider Dr. Tiller. Kline spent years using his position as A.G. to target and bully Tiller. Last week, a disciplinary panel in the state recommended he have his law license revoked. During Kline’s six years in office, however, he had staff record license numbers of patients at the clinic and then subpoenaed the DMV for the identities of the cars’ owners. He also used data that he knew was flawed to justify his investigations into the clinic, and he stored medical records acquired from the clinic in an unsecured garage, among other things. Kline says he regrets nothing in his pursuit of Tiller.