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Anti-Choice Politicians Focus on State Law

By Dr. Jen Gunter, 20 June 12

My last post detailed a case in which a young woman with a serious heart condition required a pregnancy termination for medical reasons. She ended up at the State hospital because they offer “free care.” Many of you know that the idea of “free care” at a State hospital is unfortunately a common belief, but simply not the case. State hospitals have budgets and are no longer the safety net for the uninsured.

Pregnant women with serious medical conditions may find themselves in an even greater bind as anti-choice laws have increasingly targeted state hospitals (see recent events in Kansas and Arizona). Why single out state hospitals for anti-choice legislation? Well, reducing/eliminating abortions at state hospitals affects education as these hospitals are typically teaching facilities, so with little to no access to abortion training these politicians hope the number of providers in the state will dwindle over time. They like to tell their constituents, “This is part of our message, that abortion providers are not welcome here.” As these lawmakers are largely motivated by anti-choice vocalizations and chest thumping, I think the easy pickings of anti-choice legislation against a state facility is the prime motivation. It’s a chip shot in a GOP controlled state and often neglected in the news because it’s buried in a state budget, so not a direct challenge to Roe. Oh, and I bet this kind of legislation helps to loosen campaign dollars.

Many people commented in disbelief, wondering why a politician might have to be contacted to determine “life or death?” But you see, the law was so obviously written by someone with no knowledge of the myriad of ways that a pregnancy can affect the health of a woman that no physician (or even lawyer, for that matter) could interpret the spirit of the law (besides, you know, misogyny). Is it reasonable chance of death in 30 minutes? 3 hours? 3 days? 3 weeks? How certain does death have to be? A 50% chance? A 25% chance of death, I mean that’s not certain, but pretty fucking high if you ask me.

You might think a politician deciding life or death is the worst thing possible (and seem suspiciously like a death panel and the biggest ego trip ever rolled into one). And I’ll admit, it’s pretty bad.

You might think a politician with no medical knowledge writing laws that interfere with your medical care to be pretty terrible. And yes, it’s pretty counter productive to good health.

You also might think that the worst thing about my post is that it’s not a single case, but a compilation of several. Well, that’s pretty bad too.

But to me, the worst thing about my post on a politician deciding on the definition of life or death when it comes to abortion access at a state hospital is that the law that allowed this to happen has been on the books now for at least 10 years. And the state political party that wrote and passed the law has been elected at least twice in the intervening time.

Why bother with the Supreme Court and Roe at all if you can win the battle far easier at the state level?