Since 2011, states have passed over 200 restrictions that limit women's access to safe and legal abortions. Although such laws are purportedly meant to protect women's health, experts say that they're simply not medically necessary. But oh well — fairly obviously, the real goal of such legislation is to keep women from making their own reproductive health decisions (because SAVE THE FETUSES).
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill meant to combat the wave of anti-choice legislation that's currently in the process of attempting to pummel our nation into pre-Roe v. Wade times. Introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, it's called the Women's Health Protection Act. Its purpose is to prohibit states from imposing uniquely restrictive "safety" regulations on facilities that provide abortion services: under this act, any law that "singles out abortion services or make abortion services more difficult to access and does not significantly advance women's health or the safety of abortion services" would be struck down.
As the Huffington Post outlines, this would mean the end of "mandatory waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds and counseling before abortion; gestational limits on abortion before viability; requirements that abortion clinics become ambulatory surgical centers." Since surgical abortion is one of the safest types of medical procedures — 40 times less likely to cause a complication than a colonoscopy, for instance — all of the unnecessary and burdensome garbage-obstacles conservative lawmakers have constructed between women and the legal right to terminate a pregnancy would be nullified. If your colon doctor or your dentist or your dermatologist doesn't have to do it, neither will your abortion clinic.
At the hearing, of course, Republicans were Republican'ing their hearts out. Most notably, Ted Cruz said that the idea that "abortion should be universally available, common, without limit, and paid for by the taxpayer" is the "real manifestation of a war on women." Cool, Ted. Thanks for the input.
Sen. Blumenthal, much more sensibly, stated, "This bill is about stopping laws that purport to be about health, when really they interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and have the very practical effect of harming women and their constitutionally protected rights. Our goal is to stop politicians from playing doctor."
As good as that sounds, there's basically no chance that the bill will pass the GOP-controlled House — however, that doesn't mean it's not significant. It serves the valuable purpose of asking Republicans to explain the disingenuous, unsupported reasoning behind the scores of excessive regulations they've imposed in the past few years. As Blumenthal notes, this may effectively remove the "patina of respectability" from the whole ridiculous charade. Which would be a very welcome change indeed.
Image via Getty.