Monday, September 05, 2005

Anti-Abortion "Emergency" Mocks Real Needs

By Cyn Cooper

Missouri is about to enter into a political exercise that mocks the tragedies in New Orleans by its wholesale anti-abortion political pandering.

Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri called a special "Emergency Session" of the state legislature. What's the emergency? Housing for Katrina survivors? Terrorists? Strapped schools? Oil prices?

No, the emergency, says Governor Blunt, is that teenagers might cross state lines to get an abortion. According to the Kansas City Star, Blunt said the Legislature's failure to approve anti-abortion measures in May poses "an immediate danger to the public health, safety and welfare" of Missouri residents.

At a projected cost of $100,000, the state legislature will convene immediately following Labor Day to consider anti-abortion legislation that the state failed to pass in its regular session.

The legislation, SB 2, shouldn't be passed in any scenario or any session. That the session is opening now when people across the country are seeing the real devastation of real emergencies is simply sick.

One measure will make anyone liable for giving information to a teenager who then gets an abortion out-of-state, including across the bridge from St. Louis in Illinois. This gag order could shut down a Clergy Consultation Service, said Rev. Rebecca Turner, executive director of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Anyone who actually helps a teen go across state lines can be sued, even for loaning a car. [9-10-05 -- I originally said they could go to prison, but Rev. Turner kindly corrected me on that.] The idea, it seems, is to force teens to navigate on their own, not unlike those left behind for days on the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that teens can go to court and present their situation to a judge if they can't get consent from their parents and a state requires it. Missouri wants to make that harder, too, by limiting adult assistance to a teen who needs to go to court. Oh ... the law may allow an exception if the teen is an incest survivor.

The state is also expected to pass miles of red-tape that will make it harder, if not impossible, for clinics in the state to operate. They will be declared ambulatory surgery centers, and must have hospital privileges within 30 miles. [Update 9-10-05: I originally thought the teen consent called for 15 years in prison, but it's doctors who do abortions but have hospital privileges beyond 30 miles. Abortion doctors travel long distances because providers are scarce. LEgal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in any medical catalog.) This 'regulate-them-off-the-map' strategy of the anti-abortion movement, first started by a rabid anti-abortion group, Life Dynamics in Texas, doesn't seem to bother the right-wingers, who argue at every other turn against government regulation.

In fact, like Gov. Blunt, many wrap their warped concepts into the thin cloth that they are helping women. That's the so-called "health and welfare" emergency in Missouri. But, where is the emergency contraception that women really want? And the support for birth control, asks Planned Parenthood of Kansas and MidMissouri?

Planned Parenthood of MidMissouri has a petition online to oppose this measure. Prochoice groups will rally at the state capitol on September 14.

In St. Louis, NARAL ProChoice Missouri is also taking busloads to the rally, has phone banks going and will host a presentation of Words of Choice at 7 p.m. on September 14 in St.Louis . A discussion of what's happening in Missouri will follow.

If there is an emergency in Missouri, it's the need for someone to blow the whistle on Gov. Blunt and the anti-abortion groups that trail him, and to tell them to get a grip on reality. The country has too many pressing needs to allow this massive anti-abortion diversion sap any more of our time and energy.


Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

I a few things to say on this, but I have to hold back on my urge to write pending the project launch.

It can't happen soon enough. These sorts of claims need to be hounded and debunked.

4:44 PM  

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