One of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws went into effect Wednesday in North Carolina after a federal judge temporarily halted the law's most controversial requirement — that a woman getting an abortion must first view a narrated ultrasound image of the fetus.
U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ordered a preliminary injunction late Tuesday, ruling that the ultrasound requirement likely violates patients' First Amendment rights.
The feminist blogosphere and advocacy organizations pronounced this ruling a victory because women in North Carolina won't be forced to look at an ultrasound image of their fetus at least four hours before terminating a pregnancy. For now.
But it's a pretty small victory when you consider the other components of the ridiculously named "A Woman's Right to Know Act" that were upheld. Women will still be forced to have an ultrasound; they just won't be required to look at it. And doctors will still have to tell their patients about "any medical risks or 'adverse psychological effects' of abortions." You know, like how abortion causes cancer (it doesn't) and will probably turn the woman into a suicidal and/or homicidal maniac (it won't).
And the state will still have to list crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) on its website for women seeking abortions. Just in time, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina released the results of its 10-month undercover investigation of North Carolina's CPCs:
- Investigators were told medical inaccuracies including, "The AIDS virus is smaller than the holes in condoms," and "30 percent of women attempt suicide after an abortion."
- In total, 61 out of 66 facilities did not report any medically trained or medically supervised personnel on staff.
- Even in the rare cases of centers that are overseen by medical professionals, there are no regulations in place to ensure that confidentiality is protected and that women will receive medically accurate information and services that meet an appropriate standard of care with respect to all reproductive health options.
Think about that. You're pregnant in North Carolina. You are seeking information about obtaining a legal medical procedure. You turn to the state, and you're directed to a religion-based center that doesn't even have any medical professionals on staff. Just what kind of medical information are you going to get? According to NARAL's investigation:
[O]ne investigator who posed as a pregnant Jewish woman was given a Bible and told by volunteers at five different CPCs that she would not go to heaven unless she became a Christian.
Which year of medical school do you think they teach converting the heathens?
Some additional findings from the investigation:
- 26% (17 of 66 CPCs) incorrectly stated as fact that abortion leads to breast cancer.
- 48% (32 CPCs) advised women seeking family planning services that none of the common methods of birth control are effective at preventing pregnancy.
- 24% (16 CPCs) suggested the high possibility of miscarriage as a reason to avoid an abortion.
And no, that last point does not make any kind of sense. But then, that's the kind of "medical advice" you get from pregnancy centers that don't actually employ medical professionals. Not that they will actually inform their
patients customers that they don't provide actual medical care:
Only 24% (16 CPCs) disclosed that they are not medical facilities.
A woman's right to know apparently does not include her right to know that there are no medical professionals at the "medical facility" she is directed to by the state.
The other, not-so-victorious provisions of the law that were upheld include a 24-hour waiting period, during which time women are required to review printed materials that show:
[P]ictures or drawings representing the development of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments. The pictures shall contain the dimensions of the unborn child, information about brain and heart functions, the presence of external members and internal organs, and be realistic and appropriate for the stage of pregnancy depicted. [...]
The printed materials shall prominently display the following statement: "The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique living human being."
The law describes that required information as "objective, nonjudgmental, and designed to convey only accurate scientific information about the unborn child at the various gestational ages." Because telling a woman that life begins at conception and the grape-sized clump of cells inside her uterus is a "separate, unique living human being" is considered science in North Carolina.
These are the hoops through which women in North Carolina must still jump in order to obtain a medical procedure. But at least looking at the ultrasound image of the fetus is no longer one of them.
And this is what passes for a victory in the war on women's reproductive rights. Which shows just how badly we're losing the war.
This week's good, bad and ugly below the fold.
The bad and ugly:
- A new proposed bill in Michigan would require doctors to screen their patients to ensure that they are not being coerced into having an abortion. And no, in case you were wondering, there's no companion bill to ensure that women are not being coerced into having a baby.
- Boys will be boys:
If you follow events on the intertubes, you may have heard of the sad case of Amber Cole, a 14-year-old girl who was videotaped giving oral sex to a boy the same age, as one of his friends watched. The other videotaped it, of course; then, being a massive douche, he uploaded it to Facebook. From there it went viral, because I guess child pornography is okay now.
If you’ve followed reality for the past ever, you know exactly how this has gone down. Amber Cole’s name has been spread far and wide across the internet. The boys in the video remain anonymous. Amber’s transgression is viewed as totally awful; the boys — well, they’ll be boys, amirite?
(h/t Amanda Marcotte)
- The Florida Supreme Court ruled that it wasn't quite difficult enough for minors to obtain an abortion, so:
The Associated Press reports that courts are now ordered to start following the changes in the process created by the new law:
One revision increases the time judges have to make rulings from 48 hours to three business days.
Another one repeals a provision that automatically grants a waiver if the deadline is missed.
Instead, the minor can ask the circuit’s chief judge to hold another hearing within 48 hours. That decision must come no later than 24 hours after the hearing.
The new law also requires judges to consider a minor’s maturity to make a decision on abortion.
So what does this mean? Let's say you're a pregnant 16-year-old in Florida. You want to get an abortion, but you know that if you notify your parents—as the law requires—you'll be beaten, kicked out and disowned. So you muster the courage to go the court for permission instead. And you now have to go to the judge in your area, not just any judge in the state. If that judge is a friend of your parents, tough. That's the law now.
The judge has three days to make a decision, so you get to sit around waiting and hoping the judge will see your side of things. And the judge will take into consideration whether you're "mature" enough to have an abortion, or whether you're just a silly little girl who obviously isn't mature enough to have an abortion, and therefore must have a baby instead. Because you're so immature.
But be grateful—because these new restrictions are for your own good, to protect you from making a decision you clearly lack the maturity to make on your own.
- Co-optation on steroids:
They say timing is everything. That’s almost certainly what an anti-choice global elite had in mind when they launched the “San Jose Articles” last week at the United Nations. Comprised of nine tenets that mimic global human rights agreement language, the articles are an attempt to dismantle safe abortion access, and undermine the authority of the United Nations and other governing bodies to ensure the health and rights of women worldwide. [...]
The nine articles take aim at three key foci of power: science, the United Nations, and global reproductive rights groups. Article 1 puts science on the chopping block: “As a matter of scientific fact a new human life begins at conception.” Articles 5 and 9 question the UN’s authority to monitor and govern: “No United Nations treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion… UN agencies and officers, regional and national courts, and others should desist from implicit or explicit assertions of a right to abortion based upon international law.”
- Catholics for Choice has a pretty damning report (PDF) on the antichoice terrorist group Human Life International:
The organization has repeatedly provided a platform for extremists using violent rhetoric—including some who have encouraged individuals to “let a wave of intolerance” wash over them or applauded sniper attacks on abortion doctors as a “superb tactic.”
Read the whole thing. It's devastating.
But it's not all bad:
- It's about time. Looks like the FBI will finally change its absurdly narrow definition of rape:
The current definition is laughably archaic, defining rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”
Men are explicitly excluded. The FBI clarifies: "By definition, sexual attacks on males are excluded from the rape category and must be classified as assaults or other sex offenses depending on the nature of the crime and the extent of injury.” [...]
The proposed new definition is far more to the advocates' liking, and far closer to reality: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
- Republicans (and the media) insisted 2010 was going to be The Year of the Woman 2.0, thanks to the Mama Grizzlies. Instead, the number of women in Congress actually went down. But it's not all bad news after all:
But so far, 2011 has proven to be a boon for women in Congress — and a special election coming up in January could mean that the 112th might be a good Congress for female representation after all. And that could be very good for activists trying to draw a bright line between Democrats and Republicans heading into 2012.
The small bump in female representation in Congress stemming from special elections since the 112th was seated means women have pulled even with their 2009 representation numbers after taking a step back in the tea party-fueled 2010 cycle.
- The Supreme Court handed the women of Wal-Mart a whopping defeat. But the women of Wal-Mart are fighting back.
- This is amazing:
A study investigating reproductive factors in ovarian cancer found that women who had been on the pill for 10 or more years cut their risk of ovarian cancer by about 45%.
So if you're on the pill, you're not just protecting yourself against unwanted pregnancy; you're also protecting yourself against ovarian cancer. Talk about win win.
- Occupy Patriarchy.
- "Where my feminists at?"
Ariel Federow has a pithy phrase for the problem many at Occupy Wall Street are trying to avoid. “There’s a ‘manarchist’ problem in a lot of left-wing spaces,” Federow, a young New York–based artist and activist who has been active in Occupy Judaism and has regularly volunteered downtown, says. “By that I mean a small group of white guys take up space and make de facto choices for a larger group of people.” But what’s surprised her so far about Zuccotti is that this concentration of power hasn’t happened. “There’s a strong current of actively saying ‘no’ ” to that element when it does pop up,” she says, “of people doing work around safer spaces and speaking out against sexual assault. And while women are leading, there are also other men involved.”
- Give these Girl Scouts a cookie:
Here’s yet another reason to love the Girl Scouts. Recently, a young girl was denied enrollment in a Colorado troop because she is trans. Via GLAAD comes this statement released by Girl Scouts of Colorado in response:
Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.
- Hillary Clinton, bad ass.
- A list of abortion restrictions that is actually guaranteed to make you laugh:
The You Monster Act (South Carolina): Requires clinic workers to call a patient a monster at least five times before performing abortion [...]
Scratch Statute (Georgia): State lottery to issue new "Termination Madness" instant scratch-off game giving participants a 1-in-100,000 chance of winning a free abortion [...]
The Phillips Waiting Period (Wisconsin): Anyone seeking an abortion must wait three days after initial consultation, during which Dale Phillips (R-Kenosha) stares at her the whole time