More on Roe and the Republican Coalition

Slate's blog on legal issues.
March 22 2008 1:19 AM

More on Roe and the Republican Coalition

[Dawn Johnsen]  With apologies for the more-than-24-hour response time - an eternity for a blog, I know - I want to resurrect Eric's statement :  "Members of the Republican coalition are not so much concerned about Roe as about reducing the number of abortions."  Implausible, I think, on its face.  But for any for whom it may be true, let me explain to them the error of their ways, with an example from here in Indiana.

Anti-choice legislators introduced two bills in the Indiana legislature a couple of sessions ago:  one an outright criminal ban on abortion and another a "TRAP" law.  "TRAP" or "targeted regulation of abortion providers" laws are designed to sound non-threatening and trick people into thinking they are about legitimate health concerns.  But they actually seek to shut down facilities that perform abortions:  by singling them out for medically unnecessary, extremely expensive regulations, such as building specifications that mandate hallway widths and room sizes that mirror hospitals.


The Indiana TRAP law would have closed every abortion clinic in the state, and kept them closed unless and until they could afford expensive renovations or relocations (leaving hospitals the only lawful possibility).  The criminal ban went nowhere, but the legislature came extremely close to enacting the TRAP law and shutting down every one of Indiana's seven abortion clinics for plainly no legitimate purpose.  Including our Planned Parenthood clinic here in Bloomington.

A few stubborn facts:  Last year Planned Parenthood of Indiana dispensed nearly half a million units of contraceptives, doing more than any other organization to reduce the abortion rate in Indiana.  I repeat, the TRAP law would have debilitated for no legitimate purpose the organization doing more than any other to reduce unwanted pregnancies in Indiana.  Most of its patients have limited other options, for they live at or below the poverty level.  Nationally, 81 percent of Planned Parenthood 's patients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy.  Many others receive screening for cancer, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.  And three percent of its services go to women to make real Roe 's increasingly hollow promise, that whether to have an abortion is a decision for the woman and not for politicians to impose on her.

The way to reduce the number of abortions is no secret.  It's by making available contraception and comprehensive sexuality education.  And more than that , by enacting policies that support healthy pregnancies and healthy families.  How about universal health care, or at least an expansion of the CHIP program for kids?  Where is that Republican coalition?


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