Two news articles recently made me think that Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale
is becoming more of a reality everyday.
The first, an AP story on the siege on the Jackson Women's Health Organization, Mississippi's sole abortion clinic, by Roy McMillan, singles out that state as leading the pack on laws restricting abortion.
For example, it recently enacted the nation's most sweeping conscience clause -- allowing any health care provider to refuse to provide any abortion-related service, including emergency referrals.
Mississippi is one of only two states, along with North Dakota, requiring consent of both parents before a minor can get an abortion. It is one of two states, along with Texas, requiring that women seeking abortions be told, in contradiction of National Cancer Institute findings, that abortion might increase their risk of breast cancer. Link
And Mississippi is not alone. NARAL gives it, and 19 other states, an F for women's access to abortion. Think those are all red southern states? Think again. Included in the list are Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota (the other state that has only one abortion clinic), Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The overall grade nationwide is a D.
And Mississippi is hardly an anomaly when it comes to laws restricting reproductive rights. Again, according to NARAL
- 45 states have "conscience clauses" allowing certain doctors or entities to refuse to provide abortion-related services.
- 44 states require parental consent or notification.
- 28 states subject women seeking abortion to biased counseling designed to dissuade them from exercising their constitutional right to choose. All but 2 of these states also require women wait additional time after receiving the biased counseling before they may obtain an abortion.
- 17 states prohibit certain public and private insurance from covering abortion-related procedures.
On November 3, 2004, Nancy Northup, President, Center for Reproductive Rights
issued a statement Responding to the Challenge of Four More Years of the Bush Administration's War on Women
. In it, she criticized the Bush administration because
In its policies and practices, it has not only violated the constitutional and human rights of countless women at home and abroad, it has also endangered their health and lives. It has deprived women of access to contraception, championed the first-ever federal abortion ban, and appointed judges outspoken in their opposition to women's right to abortion.
Freedom, obviously, is good for Iraqis. But, not for women.
Yesterday, in tcs5384`s diary on abortion, I, and others, pointed out the dangers of parental consent laws, especially in the case of rape and/or incest. Which brings me to this story from the Denver Post. It seems that Brigadier General Taco Gilbert, former commandant of cadets, and Colonel Sue Slavec, former training group commander, were not responsible for the epidemic of sexual assaults at the school. According to Department of Defense Inspector General Joseph Schmitz, the problem was that rape victims were allowed to seek help confidentially. There were 142 sexual assaults reported over 10 years. Want to guess how many would have been reported without confidentiality?
Thankfully, David S.C. Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, disagreed and the department had decided instead to back "a strong confidentiality policy."
The Washington Post also reported that 273 sexual assaults have been reported since August 2002 among U.S. troops deployed in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Bahrain, including 119 in the Army and 32 in the Navy.
Remember the argument that women couldn't serve in the military because they would be vulnerable to rape. I guess they were right. Except the rapists aren't wearing the other side's uniform. They're wearing ours.