Rights Groups Prepare For Fight Against Arkansas’ Man-Dictated Rapist Rights Abortion Law

By Julia Conely
Common Dreams (7/11/17)

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday [today, 7/12] in the American Civil Liberties Union’s suit to block several new anti-reproductive rights laws that have passed in Arkansas, which would impose severe restrictions on women’s abortion access in the state.

The group has joined with the Center for Reproductive Rights to keep the laws from going into effect, starting at the end of July.

Law would require any woman seeking an abortion to get permission from the man who impregnated her.

“Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion,” said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “They’ve created burdensome bureaucratic hurdles that invade patient privacy.”

Rapists rights come first

The Tissue Disposal Mandate, or H.B. 1566, will make it illegal for a woman to terminate a pregnancy without informing the man who impregnated her. During Arkansas’ legislative session, the provision was added to the state’s Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009, which mandates that family members must agree what to do with a loved one’s body after a death. The law would apply to women who become pregnant in cases of rape as well as women who have consensual sex.

The law also states that any man or woman must be over the age of 18 in order to seek an abortion. In the case of a 17-year-old girl who is impregnated by an 18-year-old, for example, the decision would be entirely up to the male.

In addition to H.B. 1566, Arkansas recently passed laws banning a medically safe and effective abortion method known as dilation and evacuation; restricting access to abortion based on the sex of the fetus; and requiring doctors to preserve fetal tissue and notify police after performing abortions on anyone under the age of 16. The ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights have strongly condemned the laws.

“Arkansas politicians have devised new and cruel ways to rob women of their right to safe and legal abortion this year,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to use the full force of the law to ensure these rights are protected and respected for all women.”

In 2015, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranked Arkansas as one of the worst states for women’s reproductive rights.

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)

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  • George Carlin – ‘Pro-Life’ Is Anything But… “They are anti-woman”: 9+-Minute Video

(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )


Teen Abortions Surged In Texas After Republicans Slashed Planned Parenthood Fudning

By Laura Bassett
The HuffPost (7/11/17)

NEW YORK ― Republicans are trying to find a way to defund Planned Parenthood as part of an overall effort to limit abortion in America. But doing so had the opposite effect in Texas, according to a new study out of Texas A&M University.

The study, conducted by economics professor Analisa Packham, shows that in the first three years after Texas Republicans slashed the family planning budget in 2011 and shut down more than 80 women’s health clinics, the abortion rate among teenagers in the state rose 3 percent over what it would have been had the clinics remained open. After cutting Planned Parenthood out of the state’s subsidized women’s health program, then-Gov. Rick Perry (R) said his “goal” was to “ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law.” But the move actually interfered with an overall downward trend in abortions in Texas.

In Gregg County, where the local health center lost 60 percent of its family planning funding, the abortion rate increased by 191 percent between 2012 and 2014

“This certainly isn’t the way to have fewer abortions,” said Dr. Diane Horvath, an OB-GYN in Maryland and an advocate with Physicians for Reproductive Health. “The abortion rates nationally have decreased and are at a historic low. So for Texans to see an increase in adolescent abortions is really telling ― it seemed to have followed the national trend until these clinics were defunded.”

The greatest rises in abortion rates occurred in rural areas, where access to affordable family planning care was already scarce. In Gregg County, where the local health center lost 60 percent of its family planning funding, the abortion rate increased by 191 percent between 2012 and 2014. The Austin American-Statesman reported that at least five counties in East Texas also saw “considerable increases” in abortions over that two-year period.

The overall abortion rate in the state dropped 14 percent between 2013 and 2016 ― but this was largely because in some low-income rural areas, like the Rio Grande Valley, women would have had to drive over 100 miles to find the nearest safe and legal abortion provider. Those women either had to seek out unsafe, do-it-yourself procedures or simply have babies they didn’t want or couldn’t afford. …

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‘Handmaid’ Author Margaret Atwood Warns Of When You Know You Live In A Totalitarian State

By Hope Reese
Vox (4/26/17)

In the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian theocracy, each wealthy and powerful man has a team of women to serve him. “Martha” cleans his home. The “Handmaid,” one of the few fertile women in the military regime, presents her body for him, lying silently on her back while he thrusts into her. His wife, hoping to become a mother to the offspring that could be created in this royal bedroom, holds the Handmaid’s head in her lap during the ceremony, watching — punishing her, later on, whenever there’s a chance.

This nightmare is the fictional creation of Margaret Atwood, the 77-year-old Canadian author, poet, and environmentalist. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1939, Atwood spent most of her youth in the Canadian wilderness.

I put nothing in that has not already been done sometime, someplace. So it’s based on human behavior. … It’s based on things that human beings have done. And that which they have done, they can do again.

In 1984, she began work on The Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian story that has become a warning to women across the globe, who have written its text on their protest signs and chanted “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” — translation: “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” A book that, even before the election of Donald Trump and the renewed conversation around women’s rights, was being turned into an original Hulu series, starring Elisabeth Moss as a Handmaid who struggles to resist her fate, which premieres Wednesday.

Atwood is a prolific and greatly loved author. Over the past half-century, she has earned dozens of awards for her work. She’s been on the shortlist for the Booker Prize, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, and a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science writing.

I spoke to Atwood from Los Angeles, where she was in town for the premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale, about her views on the current political situation in the US, women’s rights, and the environment. Here’s our conversation, lightly condensed and edited for clarity. …
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