Trust Women? Not in Missouri


On March 30 I listened through live audio stream as the Missouri House of Representatives voted to pass the 2010 Abortion Restriction Bill (HB1327/2000). This bill would create new, unnecessary restrictions on access to abortion services in Missouri to join the existing unnecessary restrictions already in place. The legislation also violates a woman’s constitutional right to make an informed decision about abortion.

The debate and vote took place on the same day that organizations opposed to abortion gathered in the state capitol for their official lobby day, so conditions pointed to a perfect anti-choice storm. The leadership, and many within the state legislative body are opposed to abortion, and those who support them in that opposition were on hand to cheer them on in their efforts to restrict access to abortion services in Missouri. There’s nothing like listening to elected officials debate whether women are capable of understanding a medical procedure and making a decision whether to have that procedure to clarify just how ill-informed those elected officials are about state law, how little respect they have for women, and how little they actually know about real women’s lives.

Here are some gems from the Missouri House debate. Representative Cynthia Davis (R-O’Fallon) said, “Abortion is a kind of domestic violence as well,” and went on to say that “women don’t naturally want to kill their offspring. Women who are loved, cared for and supported don’t mind having their own child.” Representative Pratt (R-Blue Springs) and Representative Nieves (R-Union) decided that anyone who voted against the bill was actively “protecting rapists.”

Contrary to the bizarre theme presented during the House debate, abortion is the most highly regulated medical procedure in Missouri. The facts about restrictions to abortion services in Missouri are clear. Under the current statute that has been in state law since 1979, “No abortion shall be performed except with the prior, informed and written consent freely given of the pregnant woman.The current law requires that at least 24 hours passes between the first visit to a clinic or doctor’s office and the time of the procedure, the patient confers with a treating physician who gathers and reviews information about the woman and relays information about the abortion procedure and any possible complications or risks.

Some of the requirements include the following.

Prior to the procedure, the woman:

• Has a provider describe the specific abortion procedure and any risks involved to her;

• Has an ultrasound, is informed of the gestational age of the fetus, and is offered the option of viewing the ultrasound;

• Has necessary lab-work done, blood pressure checked, and a bi-manual (pelvic) exam conducted;

• Completes a medical history which is reviewed by trained staff and physician for completeness and clarity; and

• Speaks with staff specially trained to review all options when faced with an unintended pregnancy.

Specially trained staff will:

• Provide information, support and referrals as appropriate;

• Assist the woman in understanding the impact of the pregnancy on her current life situation;

• Help her identify and explore all of the options available to her—childbirth, adoption, or abortion—so she can make the best decision for her;

• Provide support and information to help her cope effectively with the emotional, social, and medical aspects of her situation;

• Make appropriate referrals for prenatal care, OB/GYN care, adoption and situation-specific counseling;

• Educate her about her related reproductive healthcare such as, birth control methods, pre- natal care, HIV and STI prevention and other appropriate concerns;

• Provide information and support as needed to ‘significant others’ who may accompany her;

• On the day of the procedure, conduct a pre-procedural interview to assess whether she is certain of her decision;

• Answer questions regarding risks, complications, and aftercare;

• Provide emotional support during the health care visit including before, during and after the procedure.

The 2010 Abortion Restriction Bill is chock full of ridiculous additional hurdles that will do nothing to reduce the number of abortions in the state of Missouri. It would require a doctor to report teens under 18 to the prosecuting attorney for the county in which the abortion procedure is to be performed if they seek an abortion, regardless of whether they actually obtain it, regardless of the fact that they have written permission from the parent, and regardless of the fact that doctors and nurses are already mandated to report abuse if it is suspected. Abortion providers would also be required to use brochures and videos developed by state bureaucrats rather than information developed by trusted medical organizations like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology or the American Medical Association. These brochures must prominently display the statement “the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” The bill would also create the new crime of ‘coercion of an abortion’ whether or not the woman actually seeks and obtains an abortion. And the 2010 Abortion Restriction Bill tells women who are survivors of domestic violence that they will be denied access to medical care if they reveal their circumstances and seek help.

In an amazing hypocritical twist, the Missouri House has wasted countless hours of the people’s time on legislation to “protect” Missourians from the federal government’s healthcare reform bill because they think government shouldn’t be involved in healthcare yet they voted to pass an abortion restriction bill that seeks to insert Missouri state government between patient and doctor. The anti-choice majority in the Missouri House is the very definition of inconsistent, but I guess the message is that government involvement in healthcare is okay as long as it involves denying women our reproductive rights and treating us like children. All eyes now turn to the Missouri Senate, where reproductive justice advocates are working hard to make sure this legislative insult does not become law.

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  • mevie

    Thank you for this brilliant piece Pamela.  You can turn your eyes and ears to the MO senate right now where they are debating the Senate version of this bill (SB793). Here’s where you can listen to the debate:

    http://www.senate.mo.gov/

     

    NOTE – the MO senate often takes breaks from the debate to introduce guests, so if that’s what you hear, hang on and they go back to the bill pretty quickly.

  • squirrely-girl

    So I’m starting to get the overwhelming impression from some of the anti-choice legislation being put forth (stricter parental notification/judicial bypass, counseling about “a lack of adoptable children”, etc.) that legislatures are just pissed because white women of financial means to afford an abortion are still able to get abortions and haven’t been completely guilted/restricted enough. They just don’t care if they hurt ALL women in the process. The thought of forcing some young, white girls into carrying to term and adopting out to a fundamentalist couple is just TOO enticing.

     

    Plenty of adoptable children languish in state’s custody but nobody is adopting them because of their age or the color of their skin. Any “lack of” adoptable children is strictly referring to WHITE INFANTS. 

     

    I LOVE when other people think fertile women should naturally provide babies for infertile people. Such a beautiful comodification of life. That’s not some weird form of slavery or anything… //end sarcasm

  • jadelyn

    Does anyone know where I could get the actual audio or a transcript of Ms. Davis’ remarks quoted here?  I am absolutely off-the-charts furious at reading it, and I’d like to get the context of it so I can more thoroughly take it apart on my blog…

  • crowepps

    It would require a doctor to report teens under 18 to the prosecuting attorney for the county in which the abortion procedure is to be performed if they seek an abortion, regardless of whether they actually obtain it, regardless of the fact that they have written permission from the parent, and regardless of the fact that doctors and nurses are already mandated to report abuse if it is suspected.

    This is just absolutely mind-boggling.  Public safety cannot effectively deal with the rapists, murderers, muggers, drug dealers and abusers of one kind of another, and the REALLY important thing that law enforcement and the legal system are supposed to focus on is whether or not teenagers are having sex.  You’ve just got to wonder whether these people have absolutely lost their minds.

  • crowepps
  • jadelyn

    I…have no words.  Just…o.0  What the hell is WRONG with that woman?  Has she ever TALKED to a real woman outside of herself, her family, and perhaps her church, to find out that we do not all fit the same damn mold?  ARGLEBLARGH!!

     

    (Thanks for the link!)

  • ack

    Last year in AZ, the legislature passed an omnibus abortion bill. During the final vote in the Senate, THREE senators (S. Allen, R. Pearce, and C. Gray) stated that abortion is “the worst form of domestic violence.”

     

    They stated this approximately ten minutes after all three of them voted against a bill to expand domestic violence protections to victims in dating relationships.

     

    The concept of abortion as domestic violence is appalling. Unless an abusive partner is controlling contraceptive use, coercing or forcing sex, coercing or forcing a woman to have an abortion, or coercing or forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy, the two do not belong in the same conversation. And I highly doubt the legislators who are making the connection understand those particular forms of abuse.

  • ack

    Prosecutors rarely take statutory rape cases without willing victims, unless the parents are persistant and powerful. While I do think that teens who become pregnant should be adequately screened for abuse, requiring immediate turnover is a preposterous attempt at a solution. That screening should be done by health care providers who have been trained in the tool and the necessary response.

  • crowepps

    The woman is an idiot. The fact that voters actually elected her to the legislature says a lot about the voters.

  • crowepps

    It’s about mandating that health care providers tattle on girls who have CONSIDERED having an abortion (or investigated birth control) as a way to discourage them from going to Planned Parenthood.

     

    The point is to limit access to Planned Parenthood or other reproductive health care providers and attempt to enforce the unrealistic and unhealthy ‘Christianist’ religious tenet of ‘no sex until marriage’ by preventing girls from accessing health care unless they are willing to risk having to endure shame and public humiliation.

  • crowepps

    They stated this approximately ten minutes after all three of them voted against a bill to expand domestic violence protections to victims in dating relationships

    I guess by the logic of ‘if a woman doesn’t want to have a baby she shouldn’t have sex’ then ‘if a woman doesn’t want a man to beat her up she shouldn’t be dating’.  You have to wonder if these guys ever actually THINK or if their brain is just full of disconnected bumper sticker thoughts that played well in the polls.

  • ack

    Most of them don’t actually think domestic violence is a problem; where that belief comes from is highly rooted in religion. Pearce is a staunch Mormon, and Allen said in a hearing that “the earth is 6,000 years old,” and it’s been fine without enviromental protections so far.

     

    That being said, their thought process seems to be much more rooted in the fact that domestic violence laws that actually target dv are linked to gun rights. I wonder if they think a woman who has had an abortion should be able to buy a gun. After all, she’s had an abortion, and that’s the equivalent of shooting a two year old…

  • crowepps

    By the way, keep the outrage about 17 year olds having sex and how they deserve prosecution and prison, and then go take a gander at the article about selling padded, push-up bikini tops, kiddie stripper poles and bikini wax for kiddies over here:

     

    http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/index.html?story=/mwt/broadsheet/2010/04/15/padded_bikinis_for_kids_recalled

     

    I mean, the mind just BOOGLES! No matter how young a female may be, it’s absolutely necessary for her clothing to advertise to one and all that she is sexy, sexy, SEXY! But if she actually, you know, has sex, then she’s either a ‘victim’ or a slut.

  • crowepps

    Sure, sure, just because a guy beats up women doesn’t mean he can’t be trusted to have guns. After all, just because he’s stalked her or hit her or threatened to kill her doesn’t mean everyone should leap to the conclusion he’s VIOLENT.

     

    I wonder if they’re aware that one-third of women who are murdered are killed by their ‘intimate partner’? Or that there are almost 1,200 women killed in America each year by their ‘intimate partner’?

  • ack

    If they’re aware of the stats, they simply don’t care. They also may use the classic coping mechanism of “the people who do those things are sick and we can identify them.”

     

    AZ’s IPV homicide stats match the national data as far as percentage killed by guns (around 60% annually). In our state, like most others, convicted felons are prohibited possessors. The majority of IPV homicide perpetrators are not otherwise felons, and don’t have prior domestic violence history that would have elevated prosecution to a felony under the three offenses in 7 years law; yet some members of the legislature STILL insist that people convicted of DV or who are under qualifying Orders of Protection (in which the judge finds the respondent a credible threat) should not relinquish their right to a weapon.

  • crowepps

    You know, judges see a lot of people over their terms on the bench, and are pretty darn good judges of character, and when they say somebody is a credible threat I for one would take it very seriously.

     

    It’s hard to believe that anybody would just dismiss that judgment and let someone who is “a credible threat” remain armed.

     

    It’s pretty common in Alaska for the cops to respond to a domestic violence incident or suicide threat or mental health check and stick all the guns in the trunk of their car to be picked up after everybody’s calmed down. Not just for ‘officer safety’ reasons, either – they really, really hate to have to come back later with the bodybags.

  • ack

    The legislature in AZ doesn’t really care about what law enforcement thinks; it’s particularly ironic because Pearce is a former cop. They have recently voted to eliminate concealed carry permits, when police officers specifically told them that one way to determine the bad folks is if they’re carrying concealed without a permit. It gives them grounds to detain while they check for other warrants and charges.

  • wendy-banks

    Absolutely appaling!

  • wendy-banks

    “You have to wonder if these guys ever actually THINK or if their brain is just full of disconnected bumper sticker thoughts that played well in the polls.”

    *laughs* I tell ya, shallow end of the gene pool, crowepps… That’s what happens when you breed for quanity, not quality.

  • wendy-banks

    Yeah, ack, I’m A ‘zonie’ too. And I have to put with this small-town, small mind far-right shit full time– This town is crawling with Mormons, Southern Baptists, and several other fundamentalist ‘flavors’. How lucky am I? *smacks head on desk* I swear, you can tell who crawled out of the shallow end of the gene pool really easy around here–

    Even the Govenor is a Birther and a Tea-Bagger. Can I move someplace civilized now? This place creeps me out some times…

  • princess-rot

    I think their problem hasn’t much to do with domestic violence, but more that abortion isn’t sufficiently domestic, unlike childrearing. In their minds, violence is something done to the fetus to prevent its slutty mother from doing her domestic duty as the incubator of tomorrow’s sons should. We are talking about the happy helpmeet cadre, here. Ok, I’m done snarking.