It’s been a massive seven days when it comes to reproductive rights in the court, between the Supreme Court ruling on the Massachusetts buffer zone being unconstitutional and now that asking businesses with religious owners to have their insurance plans cover birth control is a religious liberty violation.
Fall out on both cases has come rapidly. It is expected that over 70 corporations could drop birth control coverage now, thanks to the Supreme Courts allegedly “narrow” decision. If the President asks Congress to find a work around, such as a better way to make sure that birth control is subsidized, well, conservatives want to see that nipped in the bud, too, since apparently that would offend the religious liberties of some tax payers and as such is not allowable. Allegedly, there is a compromise answer both sides of the aisle are supposed to agree on, and that’s allowing over the counter pill sales. But while that may sound like a good idea, it doesn’t address the expense issue (after all, take a look at the costs of other OTC medicines, which you can’t subsidize with a co-pay), or the fact that you can’t get an IUD or other long acting reversible contraception that way, which are both the most effective and have the biggest price tags up front. Of course, conservatives really want OTC contraceptives not because they think people should have the ability to prevent pregnancy, but because they hope that would put Planned Parenthood out of business. Once again, that is always the end goal.
The buffer zone ruling has had immediate impact as well. Abortion opponents are celebrating with walks in Boston now that the buffer is down. Long time “sidewalk counselors” are testing the new limits and joyously embracing the ability to get up close and personal with patients again. What’s most interesting about the articles written about the return to the sidewalk post buffer ruling is the number of people who are also quoted when the ruling went into place. One example is Ruth Schiavone, who felt thwarted when the buffer went into place in 2007, and who sued to get the original bubble law tossed prior to that (the original bubble was replaced by a buffer because police found it too hard to enforce). Looking at Schiavone’s interactions with violating the prior order shows how careful lawyers were when they picked a face for their case.
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As Massachusetts deals with their new buffer-less cities, Montana feels confident their bubble is legally sound. In Minnesota a new Planned Parenthood is being protested despite it not offering abortion. In Ohio, a Cincinnati clinic may close after a judge has ruled its transfer agreement isn’t good enough to pass local muster, a sure sign that Ohio really is planning to pick off all of their clinics one by one.
The “medical experts” who run Operation Rescue are touting the death of a patient in Cleveland as a sign of the dangers of abortion. The argument lies on a massive amount of assumptions, of course. Considering the group can’t even seem to remember that a fetus that is just over 19 weeks gestation is not actually “a few days from Ohio’s legal limit,” which is 24 weeks gestation according to the later abortion ban Ohio passed in 2011, their medical knowledge should be taken with a grain of salt. Meanwhile, National Right to Life Committee’s Mary Spaulding Balch is admitting to the fact that abortion really isn’t more dangerous than childbirth, and is safer than many other medical procedures.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell is promising more abortion restrictions on a federal level if he is reelected and Republicans take over the Senate.
In good news this week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed the state’s new 72 hour abortion waiting period, which I surmised could potentially end abortion in the state. It’s not yet clear if the legislature has the votes to override, but the fact that they will be forced to do so now is a good start. Also, another attempt to undermine the Wichita abortion clinic by attacking the clinics owner has failed to gain any traction.