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Laws That Bully Women Seeking Abortions

5 Laws That Bully Women Seeking Abortions

While it's one thing to be fully informed before a medical procedure, laws dictating what information needs to be dispersed before abortions are not always passed to educate women, but to dissuade them.

Louisiana passed a law Wednesday that will require women to have ultrasounds before abortions, even if they are rape or incest victims. Supporters aren't even shy about saying why they support it: they hope to deter women from choosing abortions. When Nebraska passed a similar law last year, Senator Tony Fulton said mandating ultrasounds will "reduce the number of abortions." These laws are not passed to improve the health and well-being of women, but to satisfy the politics and personal ethics of their supporters.

It's hardly the first time, though, state government passed abortion laws using misguided logic. Using findings from the Guttmacher Institute, here are five laws that are just bully tactics disguised as legislation.

  1. Describing ultrasounds: Because requiring ultrasounds is not enough, technicians in Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are required to describe what they see (eyes, a hand, maybe even the sex) during an ultrasound up to an hour before the abortion. Victims of rape and incest are not spared the theatrics.
  2. Post patient questionnaires online: Oklahoma requires women to fill out a questionnaire, which asks potentially identifying questions, and then posts it online.
  3. Provide info on fetus's ability to feel pain: Nine states are required to tell women how much pain the fetus will feel. This seems like fine information before a woman decides, but afterward?
  4. Report inaccurate info on an abortion-breast cancer link: Out of the seven states whose required info provides material on breast cancer risks after abortions, five (Alaska, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia) inaccurately report an increased risk.
  5. Focus only on negative reactions: For all the women who feel regret and loss and wonder what if after an abortion, I know from eight months working on a postabortion hotline women also feel relief. In fact, most of the calls were about guilt over feeling relief. Yet out of the 17 states that provide info on possible psychological responses to abortions, seven (Michigan, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia) focus on the negative only.

If a state wants to require options counseling — that are comprehensive and accurate — before a woman decides how to have an abortion then fine. But adding impediments after a decision is made is not of value to anyone, except maybe those over involved in the lives of strangers.

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