In The Two Weeks Since SCOTUS Heard An Abortion Case, 5 Laws Changed

by Alexandra Svokos
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In the two weeks since the Supreme Court heard the most important abortion case in decades, five different abortion-restricting laws have been argued at different levels.

The Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case deals with a Texas law that would leave fewer than 10 abortion clinics open in the entire state.

This law says abortion clinics must meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center and have hospital admitting privileges, both of which are medically unnecessary and basically only serve to shut clinics down.

But it's not just Texas. Around the country, where abortion is a Constitutionally-protected right, laws are being proposed that would severely restrict abortion access.

In these two weeks alone, Florida, Louisiana, Indiana and West Virginia have faced abortion-restricting laws while the Senate discussed another proposed measure.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture said laws restricting abortion access can be seen as torture in a new report released last week.

The report specifically states laws that make it difficult for women to get abortions are wrong. It says:

The denial of safe abortions and subjecting women and girls to humiliating and judgmental attitudes in such contexts of extreme vulnerability and where timely health care is essential amount to torture or ill-treatment.

So what's going on in the United States?

Last Thursday, West Virginia banned a second-trimester abortion method -- the dilation and evacuation procedure, which is “considered the safest second-trimester abortion method,” according to the New York Times.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin attempted to block the ban by vetoing it. Tomblin has previously vetoed other laws restricting abortion access.

But West Virginia legislators overrode the veto. The ban is set to take effect in May.

Florida is facing a barrage of laws that would limit abortion access.

At the end of February, a court approved a law in Florida that forces women to wait 24 hours after meeting with a doctor before getting an abortion.

Wait periods, practically speaking, mean women have to make multiple trips or stay overnight to get an abortion -- which is more difficult and costly when there are so few clinics left in a state that they're a far distance from home.

This Tuesday, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU asked the Supreme Court of Florida to stay the ruling so it wouldn't go into effect yet.

But Florida's got more problems.

Last Wednesday, a law was approved that, just like the Texas law, would require the ridiculous hospital admitting privileges and force clinics to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center.

The bill would also defund organizations associated with abortion -- you know, like Planned Parenthood. To be clear: This bill would take away funds for STD testing, pap smears and birth control.

State Senator Aaron Bean made the point of these requirements clear, saying:

Let's get Florida out of the abortion business … That's what this bill does.

Indiana, too, is facing major threats to abortion access.

A huge anti-abortion law was approved in Indiana late last week, and now only needs Governor Mike Pence's signature to go into effect.

This law is on the more grotesque, manipulative side of insane.

The law requires that women arrange and pay for a funeral or cremation for her aborted fetus (yes, a cremation or funeral for a tiny amount of unassembled cells, in many cases). Women also have to listen to the fetus's heartbeat at least 18 hours before getting an abortion, which means women have the additional cost of a waiting period.

The law additionally prohibits women from aborting a fetus found to have a serious disability or deformation. That law only otherwise exists in North Dakota.

There have been petitions for Pence to not sign the law into effect.

The Senate got in on the fun, discussing a ban on abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had a hearing this Tuesday about a proposed ban on late-term abortion, introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham.

Most American abortion laws have exceptions in the cases of rape, incest and danger to the woman's health. This ban does not have these exceptions unless the woman will literally die without an abortion, the Huffington Post reported.

At the hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein spoke about her memories of the dangerous days before abortion was made legal with Roe v. Wade, saying this bill would bring us back there. She said:

As my life has gone on and I have seen more and more, I have really come to believe that Roe v. Wade is the right thing.

Christy Zink, a witness of the hearing, spoke against the proposed ban. She talked about having an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy when she found out her son would be born without half a brain.

This bill was already voted down in the Senate last fall, but hey, might as well have another go at not letting women (and their partners) make their own major life decisions!

The Supreme Court had to step in to save abortion access in Louisiana.

In late February, a law in Louisiana was approved that would close three out of the remaining four abortion clinics in the state.

This law, like that from Texas, required clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, which is a ridiculous and completely unnecessary requirement, as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expertly pointed out two weeks ago.

The clinics were at least temporarily saved, however, by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court suspended the ruling approving the law two days after hearing Whole Woman's, so it doesn't go into effect and the clinics can remain open for now.

This is also what SCOTUS did in Texas before taking on the Whole Woman's case. The court's decision on that case will be announced in June.

Just another fabulous two weeks in the fight for women's health and freedom!