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War Against Women in the States

March 22, 2012

For Immediate Release

War Against Women in the States

Punishing, Degrading, Extremist Attacks on Women’s Health Dominate the News

What do these states have in common?

Republican-controlled state legislatures have been working over-time recently – finding more and more creative ways to punish, degrade, and restrict women seeking to obtain birth control coverage or exercise their reproductive choices.

Here is a rundown of some of their extremism making news just this week:

  • In Arizona, legislation could require women to prove to their bosses that they needed birth control for a non-contraceptive purpose. And a Republican lawmaker wrote to a constituent that women should be forced to watch an abortion before they obtained one.
  • In Alaska, a State Representative suggested women seeking an abortion should be required to present written consent from the man who impregnated her.
  • In Tennessee, legislation would mandate the state publish identifying information about women having abortions, along with the names of the doctors performing the procedure.
  • In Pennsylvania, the Governor advised women receiving an unwanted state-mandated ultrasound that they could “just close their eyes.”
  • In Idaho, a State Senator suggested women seeking an exemption for rape should submit to questioning to ensure they weren’t confused about ‘normal marital relations.’
  • And in Texas, legislation mandates women submit to transvaginal ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.

These state legislatures have one clear thing in common – not enough Democratic women. Each ranks low on the list of states when it comes to percentage of Democratic women – half are in the bottom 10.

While there’s no silver bullet for anti-woman policies, a lack of Democratic women clearly creates an environment for some truly outrageous ideas.

[CAWP, accessed 3/16/12; Guttmacher Institute, accessed 3/16/12; US Census, accessed 3/19/12]

Alaska: Alaskan State Rep Called for Women Seeking an Abortion to Require Signature of the Man who Impregnated Her. During a debate over women’s health, Rep. Alan Dick suggested that the state criminalize women seeking an abortion without the written consent of the man who impregnated her. He said, “…If I thought that uh, the man’s signature was required, required! in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…” [Planned Parenthood, 3/19/12]

Tennessee: Legislation Would Mandate the State Publish the Name of Each Doctor Performing Abortions and Demographics About the Women Having the Procedure Including Her Age, Race, County, Marital Status, Number of Times She Has Been Pregnant. On March 19, 2012 Huffington Postreported on new legislation moving through the Tennessee House of Representatives which “would require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion and detailed statistics about the woman having the procedure, which opponents worry will spur anti-abortion violence in the state.” Under the legislation, the Life Defense Act of 2012, the state’s department of health would be required to make detailed demographic information about “every woman who has an abortion available to the public, including her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant. Each report would also have to include the name of the doctor who performed the procedure.” [Huffington Post, 3/19/12]

Pennsylvania: Governor’s Advice to Women Who Receive Mandated Ultrasound Prior to Abortion—They “Just Have to Close Their Eyes.” During a press conference, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was asked about legislation that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory ultrasound. When a reporter asked if requiring a woman to view an ultrasound went “too far,” Corbett responded, “I’m not making anybody watch, OK? Because you just have to close your eyes. As long as it’s on the exterior and not the interior.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/16/12]

Arizona: Legislation Would Require Medical Reason for Coverage of Birth Control and Allows Employers to Fire Women Who Use “Birth Control to Prevent Pregnancy Despite Employer’s Moral Objection.” On March 14, 2012 Huffington Post reported, “Arizona legislators have advanced an unprecedented bill that would require women who wish to have their contraception covered by their health insurance plans to prove to their employers that they are taking it to treat medical conditions. The bill also makes it easier for Arizona employers to fire a woman for using birth control to prevent pregnancy despite the employer's moral objection.” [Huffington Post, 3/14/12]

  • Arizona: Lawmaker Wanted Mandate to Force Women to Watch an Abortion Be Performed.On March 21, 2012 the Huffington Post reported that Arizona Representative Terri Proud had emailed a constituent who had asked Proud to vote against legislation that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, saying that women should have to be forced to watch an abortion being performed. Proud wrote, “Personally I'd like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a ‘surgical procedure.’ If it's not a life it shouldn't matter, if it doesn't harm a woman then she shouldn't care, and don't we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else. Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain - I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living - I will be voting YES.” [Huffington Post, 3/21/12]

Idaho: Legislator who Sponsored Mandatory Ultrasounds for Women Seeking Abortions, Even for Victims of Sexual Violence, Suggests Women Use Rape as Reason for Abortions. On March 20, 2012 the Huffington Post reported that during final debate over legislation in the Idaho Senate that would require women seeking abortions to undergo a mandatory ultrasound—even if they are victims of rape or incest—the bill’s sponsor questioned if women understood what rape was. State Sen. Chuck Winder responded to opponents by saying, “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on.” [Huffington Post, 3/20/12]

Texas: Legislation Mandated Transvaginal Ultrasound for Women Seeking Abortions. In 2011, Texas passed legislation requiring women seeking an abortion to receive a transvaginal sonogram, similar to the recent legislation debated in Virginia. However, as the Texas Tribune noted, the Texas legislation was more strict. “It requires women to have a sonogram at least 24 hours ahead of an abortion, and the doctor to play the heartbeat aloud, describe the fetus, and show the woman the image, unless she chooses not to view it. Although the Texas law doesn’t specify what kind of ultrasound — belly or transvaginal — abortion providers say they almost always must use the transvaginal probe to pick up the heartbeat and describe the fetus at the early stage of pregnancy when most women seek abortions.” [Texas Tribune, 2/23/12]

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