There’s been a lot of depressing news regarding American women’s right to choose lately. Kansas recently passed a law designed to regulate all three of its remaining abortion providers out of existence, and South Dakota passed one that requires women seeking abortions to wait several days and let the anti-choice people scold, lecture, and lie to them (about how dangerous abortion is to your health) before going through with their procedures. They’d also have to prove they haven’t been coerced into the procedure by anyone, which seems like a tricky thing to prove. (Personally, I think being scolded by the Jesus people would only make me want to get an abortion even more, but I can imagine this would be traumatic for a lot of women already facing a tough decision.)
Fortunately, federal judge Karen Schreier came to the rescue yesterday, barring the South Dakota law from going into effect until after it’s done being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood. “It would force our patients to discuss their most private medical information with an unlicensed, non-medical group that is opposed to abortion,” PP’s attorney said in a statement. How are elected officials allowed to do this?!
Judge Schreier stepped in to say they were not, in fact, allowed to do this, as it violates the constitutionally grounded right to a safe and legal abortion as laid out by Roe vs. Wade. Furthermore, she said the law “degrades” women by assuming they’re not equipped to make this decision on their own, as well as violating their rights to privacy and freedom of speech by forcing them to discuss their private medical matters with the people at the “Pregnancy Help Centers.”
“Forcing a woman to divulge to a stranger at a pregnancy help center the fact that she has chosen to undergo an abortion humiliates and degrades her as a human being,” read the court order, obtained by msnbc.com. “If the preliminary injunction is denied, many women will have been denied their right to free speech and effectively forced against their will to remain pregnant until they give birth.”
Remember that anti-choice movie that accidentally highlighted the horrors of forced birth? The Republican-controlled SD legislature might not be locking them in a basement somewhere, but they are trying to impose a similar concept on their citizens. I really hope PP prevails in this lawsuit, but I’m going to use this as a teachable moment for everyone who thinks the theocratic wing of the Republican party will never take away the right to chose: you are wrong. They are taking it away as we speak. Have fun at your barbecues this weekend, but remember that freedom is not something you should take for granted. It’s something we have to fight for constantly. Please do not stop paying attention.