Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reproductive Privacy Not OK in OK

Think Progress published a chilling post recently:

Huffington Post reports that "Proponents of the legislation claim that women should not be concerned over their privacy since no names or "personal information" will be reported." As Amanda Terkel noted in the TP piece above, that claim is a crock. The screen of confidentiality provided by that questionnaire is less than paper-thin. The information collected via that questionnaire, combined with local knowledge held by nosy bystanders, could easily enable people to inquire into the reproductive histories of women they know.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (isn't it weird that such an organization even exists?) has been following this situation for awhile. According to the Center, this is just the latest of Oklahoma's attempts to restrict access to abortion services. This law is crafted to intimidate both the women who seek abortion services and the doctors who provide such services.

The challenged law...addresses at least four distinct subjects: it redefines a number of abortion-related terms used in the Oklahoma code; imposes a ban on sex selective abortions; establishes new requirements for doctors who perform abortions or treat patients who have had abortions to report extensive, detailed patient information to the State Health Department; and creates new responsibilities for the Health Department, the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, and the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners relating to gathering and analyzing abortion data and enforcing state laws concerning abortion.

The new law makes abortion risky for women who don't want to be exposed and doctors who have to figure out how to work within awkward boundaries, and cumbersome for state boards charged with enforcing the laws. Addressing just one point, the prohibition against abortion as a method of sex selection, CRR attorney Jennifer Mondino notes that,

The sex-selective bans in effect limit access to abortion because it may chill doctors from providing the service. It's difficult for a doctor to determine the reason why a woman is having an abortion. So it's yet another hurdle for doctors who are simply trying to provide a legal safe service. The legislature has chosen to pass this law rather than doing something that may actually combat a problem that may or may not exist in Oklahoma.

What anti-abortion activists don't seem to understand is that oppressive laws won't prevent women from having abortions; they'll simply drive the activity underground, as it was before 1973 (in the USA). Intimidating laws don't save babies, they harm women. But, hey, maybe they're just the sort of women who deserve to be harmed.

Or, maybe they're not.


Dave said...

Laws are designed to have an intended purpose. This one has no purpose but to discourage abortions and to penalize only the woman. If the law is as harmless as the supporters claim then they should add other declarations.

Age of the father
County, state, and country of father’s residence
Race of the father
Years of education of the father
Marital status of the father
If the father is married, is he married to the mother?
Total number of children fathered by the father

Such additions would bring balance and fairness. Oh, I forgot. If the declarations were included the bill would have died in committee.

Evie said...

The state of Oklahoma would be well advised to stay out of people's bedrooms and pay more attention to its public school classrooms: 75% of Oklahoma high school students can't name the first American president.

The stupid burns.

Jenn said...

...and then they should post the photos of the men who have children and don't pay child support.

Barbara said...

Ha! I love Jenn's idea.
I'd like to know who's making up these laws????? Don't they have better things to do with their time?