Senate Considers Bill Prohibiting Harmful Abortion Restrictions

Illustration for article titled Senate Considers Bill Prohibiting Harmful Abortion Restrictions

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).

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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.

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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.

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Image via Getty.

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arischwartz
Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

BREAKING NEWS, DEVELOPING STORY, BREAKING DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPING BREAK

By ARI SCHWARTZ JULY 15, 2014

WASHINGTON — Contrary to what everyone expected this week, the US Senate actually tried to do something. Attempts at passing a bill titled, "the Women's Health Protection Act" have been called "breathtakingly groundbreaking in the modern era of non-legislation." The bill, an attempt by the federal government to stop state governments from doing stupid shit that infringes upon established law and jurisprudence, was quickly mocked in the Senate by Republicans as being "too radical for words."

Sen. Ted Cruz said of the bill that, "this is real, serious legislation. If I'm reading bills, how can I spend time grousing about the IRS and posting silly Tweets about the IRS? I can't be bothered with this crap."

In response to some GOP talking head on cable news, Sen. Blumenthal, one of the sponsors, retorted with, "I want Americans to believe in the Democratic Party's ability to half-ass everything. That's at least 25% more ass than you're getting with the Republicans, who are too busy covering the asses of the Tea Party when they say stupid or racist stuff. Think about that."

Some professor at an Ivy or Ivy equivalent said that, "this is unprecedented in the history of everything. There, you happy with your soundbite now?"

A poll found by Gallup showed that 76% of Americans don't know what the Senate does, and the remaining 24% no longer believe it does anything anyway.