Undue burdens placed on women seeking abortions

Photo by Tyler Meuter

On March 2, the Supreme Court heard Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the first abortion case it has taken on in nearly two decades. The case deals with a Texas law HB2 which places an “undue burden” on women trying to obtain an abortion. The law requires doctors to have admitting privileges in local hospitals and requires the procedure to only be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers.

On the surface, this seems like a good idea, but in reality it significantly reduces women’s access to safe abortions and does not enhance their safety.

The very fact that states are passing laws that limit access to abortions is infuriating. The issue, however, is that many of these state regulations come in the guise of benefitting women’s health, when really they deter women from going through with an abortion.

Of course there should be some regulation so that people don’t end up going to some dingy, non-sterile dump to get an abortion — as has actually happened in some clinics which were not properly regulated. But requiring women to have an ultra-sound and then forcing the provider to show them the image and describe it, which is required in Texas, Louisiana and Wisconsin, is not something meant to provide women with adequate treatment or even an effort to maintain informed consent; it is the state attempting to manipulate women into backing out of a decision that is entirely their decision to make and no one else’s business.

Some states, like Texas and Louisiana, require women to get an ultrasound at least 24 hours before having the procedure while other states require women to wait 72 hours. South Dakota even prohibits weekends and state holidays from being included in this waiting period, making it difficult for women travelling long distances to even get to a clinic that provides abortions.

In addition to stringent regulations, some states also require doctors to report factually inaccurate information. Arizona and Arkansas require doctors to tell women that drug induced abortions can be reversed mid-way through, which so far has not been scientifically proven, though this law is temporarily not in effect as per a court order.

Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas also make clinics provide written information that inaccurately depict the effects of an abortion on future fertility. Additionally, Alaska, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas require them to provide written information that inaccurately claims a link between breast cancer and abortions.

Furthermore, Kansas and Oklahoma have  outlawed a surgical abortion termed ‘dilation and evacuation,’ which is the safest surgical method for an abortion.

This list goes on and on. The point is having an abortion is a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, as determined in Roe v. Wade. The government is also prohibited from placing an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion as determined in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Making women jump through these hoops is definitely an “undue burden.”

The recent Supreme Court case is causing people to start speaking up about their abortion experiences and forcing to have an open dialogue. Some lawyers even participated in the Supreme Court briefs to share their experiences with abortion.

Regardless of whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, women should not be guilt-tripped or misinformed about the risks of the procedure. Factually accurate information needs to be given to ensure the safety of women, and if you have to lie, cheat, or manipulate someone into doing something, you may need to reevaluate whether or not you are in
the right.