Recap and Update to Part 1
Part 1 addressed two key bills in Congress: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, H.R. 3541 (PRENDA). The latter was defeated in the House (246-168) on Thursday, May 31. Even though 246 representatives voted in favor of the bill, it failed to get the two-thirds majority needed under suspension of the rules that brought it to the House floor.
Republicans, of course, made the talk shows to feign outrage that the bill failed.
At some point, it's useful to have a longer discussion about the real "war on baby girls", but let's leave it at this for the moment:
The two pieces of legislation (above) are far from the only bills Congress has taken up as part of the war on women. And clearly VAWA is a pro-woman, pro victim's rights law that has already been reauthorized twice before extremist GOP lawmakers halted it by refusing to include commonsense provisions that protect Native populations, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrant women. Apparently these women don't bleed or bruise.
There is also the Paycheck Fairness Act which was blocked by GOP extremist lawmakers on Tuesday, 6/5. The bill needed 60 votes to pass; it received 52. All 47 Republicans - including five women - voted against it. The Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests say it would create “unprecedented government control over how employees are paid at even the nation’s smallest employers."
Any wagers on how they feel about "unprecedented government control" over women's reproductive health and choices?
Part 2: Overview of State Anti-Choice Laws in 2012
2011 and 2012 may set a record for the number of anti-choice, anti-abortion bills introduced and passed in State legislatures.
"In the first three months of 2012, legislators in 45 of the 46 legislatures that have convened this year introduced 944 provisions related to reproductive health and rights."
The good news - little as there is - points to a drop in both the number of bills introduced so far this year, compared to last year, and those that have been enacted. But, the year is only half over and legislatures in 28 states are currently in session.
As of June 1, extremist lawmakers in 11 states have passed 28 anti-choice bills that range from banning abortions after 18 and 20 weeks, expanding or authorizing pre-abortion counseling and waiting periods, prohibiting the use of "telemedicine" to prescribe medication abortion, and limiting Medicaid coverage of abortions.
These laws are just part of the story, however. Our very own U.S. Taliban extremist lawmakers are using other ways to thwart contraception and abortion.
Such measures include requiring abortion providers to have hospital privileges at nearby hospitals (instead of a wider acceptance of privileges at any hospital), and limiting to OB/GYNs those that can perform abortions; enacting abstinence only sex education, repealing requirements for contraception education, broadening religious exemptions for providing contraception and abortion coverage, excluding family planning organizations from state funding, and prohibiting states from contracting with abortion providers for family planning services.
One of the most breathtaking is the fetal homicide law. It specifies that a fetus of any gestation (including an embryo) may be a victim of homicide and was passed by Tennessee lawmakers.
State by State
Alaska: Authorizes the creation of "Choose Life" license plates, proceeds from which go to support adoption services in the state; limits Medicaid funding for abortions for low-income women.
Arizona: Requires providers to have hosptial privileges; targets regulatation of abortion clinics; restricts abortion after 18 weeks; enacts state-mandated counseling; authorizes the use of outdated FDA protocols for medication abortion; eliminates disclosure by doctors if birth defects would lead to abortion; authorizes state-mandated ultrasound.
Indiana: Eliminates coverage for contraceptive devices from family planning authorization/funds.
Maryland: Limits public funding of abortion for low-income women.
Mississippi: Requires providers to have hosptial privileges; mandates surgical and medication abortion to be done only by physician (OB/GYN, other).
Oklahoma: enacts state-mandated counseling requirement.
South Dakota: Women must be told about negative consequences of abortion - no requirement for scientific/medical accuracy; bans abortion coverage in new state health insurance exchanges authorized by ACA; enacts state-mandated counseling requirement.
Tennessee: prohibits telemedicine for medication abortions; mandates abstinence-only sex education requirement; passes Fetal Homicide bill that specifies 'embryo' as victim of homicide.
Utah: Enacts state-mandated counseling requirement and mandatory waiting period.
Virginia: Enacts state-mandated counseling requirement and mandatory waiting period; state-mandated ultrasound prior to abortion.
Wisconsin: bans abortion coverage in new state health insurance exchanges authorized by ACA; enacts state-mandated counseling requirement; prohibits telemedicine for medication abortions; requires surgical and medication abortion to be done only by physician (OB/GYN, other); removes contraceptive education from sex education provisions.
The Worst of the Worst
It's tough to give a "worst of" award to any state that treats women and our rights more like eminent domain (but without even the right to appropriate reimbursement or payment) than citizens. However there are worsts. In the assault on reproductive rights, two states rise to the top (or the bottom, as it were): Arizona and Wisconsin.
Arizona now leads the pack for its restrictive anti-abortion laws, having enacted seven new measures thie year as part of an omnibus abortion bill. Then, in early May, the state joined Kansas, North Carolina and Texas in banning state funds for Planned Parenthood because PP also provides abortions.
The move will affect 20,000 women in the state who use Planned Parenthood for preventative health care and family planning services. All I have to say, is, "Way to go, Governor Jan Brewer!"
Then there's Wisconsin.
There are so many reasons Wisconsin rates as a "worst". All of them have to do with Governor Scott Walker. His job creation record, his union busting bill, a criminal investigation that appears to have snagged him, and his repeal of the state's Equal Pay Law are good starting points. The last showcases more of Walker's extremist GOP politics regarding women's rights. At the time it was repealed, State Senator Glenn Grothman noted it was only fair to repeal it because men need the money more than women.
So all of these examples are bad enough. But Walker has also been busy undermining women's reproductive rights, quietly and under the radar.
If you're keeping track, Wisconsin is second only to Arizona for the sheer number of anti-choice laws enacted. By the time the legislature had adjourned, extremist GOP lawmakers had passed five such laws (see State by State, above, for specifics).