Before we went into Afghanistan, I remember reading about a law there ruling that women couldn’t become doctors, and couldn’t be treated by a male doctor. And I thought to myself, that’s some creative hatred. You have to get up early and actually think about hatred like that.
This is what we’ve seen from our stateside version of the Taliban when it comes to abortion laws. The goal is not to ban abortions, but to make abortion access either unworkable or too costly. We have seen this consistently since early 2011. There’s a group of people sitting in a room trying to figure out how to constrict access to abortions in the most creative way possible. One example was the licensing rules attempted in Kansas and Virginia, that mandated that abortion clinics needed absurdly wide hallways and janitorial space and other features that just couldn’t really be accomplished. And now we have another example in Mississippi.
A bill that would require doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology has passed the Mississippi House.
Those who opposed the bill argued Tuesday it could close the state’s sole clinic if a doctor who met such requirements could not be found.
Around three dozen representatives opposed the bill saying it would disproportionally affect the state’s poor women who would not be able to afford a trip to a clinic in another state.
This doesn’t ban abortion, nor does it get involved in any Constitutional issues. It just sets up crazy regulatory conditions to effectively end abortion access in the state, which only has one clinic to begin with. Currently, the doctors at the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, in Jackson, fly in from other states, a fairly common practice. This bill would end that, and leave the clinic scrambling to find a doctor to meet the guidelines.
And as I said, this is part of a new wave of access restrictions that has swept through the states:
Increasingly, however, laws have targeted the supply-side of abortion: the doctors. Both Kansas and Virginia passed stringent new licensing standards for abortion clinics last year. The Kansas regulation requires procedure rooms of at least 150 square feet and janitorial space of 50 square feet. Dressing rooms for patients must have a toilet, washing station and storage for clothing. Virginia has required abortion clinics to comply to hospital standards, which often means widening hallways and expanding procedure rooms.
Those laws tend to be effective at reducing the number of abortions in a state. Joyce found as much in Texas: after the state put new restrictions on all clinics performing abortions after 16 weeks in 2004, those procedures decreased by 88 percent in the course of one year.
Remember that these are the anti-regulatory folks, the conservative Republicans, using regulations to ban abortions through the back door. It’s enough to make someone a libertarian.