Women’s Reproductive Rights Are A Heartbeat Away From Failing

Are you listening? Do you hear? Read my lips soon there will be no abortions in states controlled by Republican legislatures. Over the last decades, abortion rights have been chipped away. The remaining few are now being hit with a large sledge hammer. Unconstitutional laws are passed that take away a woman’s right to choose. Fetal heartbeat detection is propelling the laws. Hear a heartbeat, restrict abortion.

States are vying for the most restrictive abortion laws. It does not seem to matter that in Roe vs Wade the time limits had to do with viability and established 24 weeks as the time factor. Apparently, now a fetus can survive even before it is conceived, according to some of the personhood laws or weeks before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. In early March, the Arkansas legislature overrode Governor Beebe’s veto to pass one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. The Human Heartbeat Protection law says that once a heartbeat is detected (around 12 weeks using an abdominal ultrasound) abortion is banned.  

After Arkansas passed this law, the North Dakota legislature surpassed Arkansas by sending the governor two new anti-abortion laws and considering two Personhood bills. One of the laws bans abortion at 6 weeks and the other prevents abortion based on genetic defects or fetal abnormality. One of the personhood measures would ban abortion completely and the other would complicate birth control, stem cell and invitro fertilization.  In fact the laws are so extreme that a group of Republican legislators are protesting the laws. Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) is outraged by the attacks on women. She says that the focus is on the unborn while neglecting protections and help for the born. This past week, Governor Dairymple signed into law the most restrictive abortion laws in the country - essentially banning abortion from the state.

Legislators in Kansas were spurred into action and are planning a massive attack on women’s rights. A veritable omnibus of anti-woman legislation. These laws will outlaw abortion by defining life at conception, tax abortion services and providers, make doctors give false information about abortion, have no exceptions for rape or incest and will not allow sex education in schools.

Heartbeats and fetal pain laws push the accepted time limits for abortion. They use pseudo-science as their basis and have no regard for established law. These "right-to-lifers" callously make their laws based on their own belief system and show no concern for the women who are having their right to choice, privacy and health taken away. They are interested in the "unborn." But once the unborn is born many of them want to cut all health care, education and support for them. And the woman or the family are not even a part of the contemplation. There is nothing subtle about their goal -- they want to do away with the right to choose for all women.

We need to stand with the protests in Arkansas and North Dakota. We need to help JAC elect leaders at the federal level who will support and advance a pro-woman agenda.

Gail Yamner
Former President, JACPAC
March 28, 2013