Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nebraska Abortion Regulations

I am on the road for about the next month or so. Interestingly I had alerted Matt that I likely would not be able to participate much in ACA activities during that time. However, I've had at least three events/items come up that I'm burning to share. Two are more involved, one less so. And since I have only a few minutes, I'll go with "less so."

In reading USA Today, I see that Nebraska has just given final approval to a new sort of measure requiring women to be screened for mental health problems before they can have an abortion.

In principle, I would probably support this, if it wasn't so non-universally applied. I have known women who have had abortions, and at least one I think should have thought it through more thoroughly before having the procedure. I could have foreseen that it would be something her personality would later ultimately regret--and it was. However, I still support it was her decision, and I know that there are other women for whom abortion may be, or may have been, a better life choice. Is offering counseling to women considering abortion a bad thing? Certainly not.

That being said, the first thought I had upon reading this blurb was, "I wonder when they'll pass a law requiring the same thing for anyone planning on becoming a parent?" Am I the only one who has thought that about the Quiverful adherents? Would that the parents on "17 and counting"—oh wait, isn't that "19 and counting" now—would require some sort of screening.

It would be great if we had screening for elective surgery applicants, people wanting to become parents, and women considering abortion. But the fact is, we don't require it. Doctors or clinics can set rules for such counseling, and sometimes do, but the state does not normally. And so I see this as somewhat prejudicially applied, and wonder if the real motivation is concern for the woman's well being, or to create further pressures and delays on women trying to obtain an abortion?

I have no idea what the debate in Nebraska has been leading up to this, but it smells a bit of fundamentalist conservatism. Feel free to correct me in comments if I've misjudged.


  1. we have mandatory counseling in Germany, too.

    Ironically the churches do it (the protestant churches, that is, the Catholics can't do it anymore because an old guy in a dress living in Rome doesn't allow it), but there are some secular organizations participating, too.

    I think it's a rather good system, since many (soon to be) parents don't know about the help (financial and otherwise) they can get. Nobody should have an abortion as a panic reaction or because nobody told them how they can afford a child.

    Actually I know quite some young couples, who definitely wanted the child, who went there to find out what help they can get rising their child, but that's probably not the same kind of counseling Nebraska has in mind.

  2. The application of the law is clearly not the concern. The point of the regulation is to stigmatize abortion. Ie make abortion==mental illness. They don't NEED to even do anything after that. It's not a means to an end, it is the end.

  3. Two thoughts come to mind with this requirement. First would the the evaluation cause a delay that could push the abortion into a late term situation. Second would the additional cost of the evaluation make the cost of the abortion a greater barrier.

    I would also be curious as to Nebraska's stand on sex education. I personally am no great fan of abortion, but I have nothing but contempt for those who consider both abortion and education to be immoral at the same time.

  4. but that's probably not the same kind of counseling Nebraska has in mind.

    No, Anna, that's not what they have in mind at all. It's all part of the Religious Right's tactic to undermine Roe vs. Wade by setting up all kinds of obstacles to women seeking to terminate a pregnancy in the hopes of frustrating them.

    It's the same thing with proposed laws to make women who want an abortion to have their names and info put into a public database (IIRC, Oklahoma tried to do that).

    I agree with the author of the post (sorry, I didn't note your name before diving into the comments section!), they should screen the women who want to have the baby instead to make sure they can be responsible parents. Otherwise you end up with women like Andrea Yates who drown their children in a bathtub.

    Maybe if these anti-abortion activists focused their attention and efforts on helping the already born, they could help make this world a better place.

  5. @ Ing: I think you hit the nail on head! That's what I walked away feeling after reading this too. Scary...

  6. This goes along with the fact the that State has stopped providing prenatal care because illegal immigrant can get it.

  7. "would the the evaluation cause a delay that could push the abortion into a late term situation"

    This was exactly what I was thinking. It seems to be the real intent behind a lot of the legislation surrounding abortion.

  8. Yes, because denying abortions to women with MI who maybe know they can't handle pregnancy, childbirth, raising kids ... that's smart! /sarcasm from someone with MI

  9. "This goes along with the fact the that State has stopped providing prenatal care because illegal immigrant can get it."

    They sure are committed to their goal of making a hell on earth.

  10. Yeah, the only thing I could winkle out on Google was myocardial infarction, which seems unlikely. Do edify us, theothermagdalene.

  11. MI = Mental Illness?

    Anyway, I was thinking the same. So you have this schizophrenic woman that wants an abortion, what happens next? A pregnancy doesn't seem to be the right time to start taking some heavy psychotropic drugs. Or will an abortion become mandatory in case of mental instability now?

  12. "So you have this schizophrenic woman that wants an abortion, what happens next? A pregnancy doesn't seem to be the right time to start taking some heavy psychotropic drugs. Or will an abortion become mandatory in case of mental instability now?"

    You're thinking it further than they have.

    The whole point is

    A: I want an abortion

    That is now codified into state law. It's to further stigmatize it. After all, what do we DO with insane people? Keep them away from the rest of society. Now the implied threat is, 'if you ask for an abortion you might be labeled as nuts and shunned for the rest of your life if not commited'. The whole point is to add more suspicion and shame on someone seeking an abortion. Which is bullshit I'm sick of it. Why the fuck are we still acting as if something legal is against the law. Can't give federal funds to it, have to discourage people from doing it. Fuck it, just outlaw it if you're going to. Be oppressive if you're going to but don't be full of crap.

  13. Tracie you have a background in anthropology, so what do you think a scientific (purely biological, and detached from society) response be to a claim that wanting an abortion is insane? I think in a previous conversation we talked about how being suicidal is technically insanity because no organism should want to do that. Hope i'm not mixing up our past discussions with something else.

  14. @Tommykey You pretty much summed up my thoughts on this after I finished reading the article. I also agree that we need to stop trying to save unborn children and do good for the children who are already existing. I agreed the most on the point you made when you said that pregnant women should be mentally evaluated to determine if they'd make good parents.

  15. Listen, first of all, "NO MEN" should be involved in forcing legislation upon women that choose to have abortions. It will forever be the fault of a wimpish pathetic man that made the woman or little girl pregnant. He is the fool that did not think. Yes, women have control, but, only to a point. Women crave security and stability in a man. Yes, some women quietly scream for a man to be very physical in a sexual experience and dream that some man will give them the time of their life!

    Our sexual desire and behavior needs to remain out of the courthouses and law makers offices. Men must stop sticking their noses in business that is not theirs. Women need to take care of their business with their women friends.

    The religious fruitcakes that push people around are mostly men with big mouths. Most if not all of them live very immoral lives behind closed doors. If their mouths were shut and they did more to train their own sons how to behave around young women, this problem would be a miniscule issue.

    Today, abortion is about money and votes. Shame on these people. I am 55 and all the issues of life that cause problems are based on a hypocritical approach to every aspect of our lives. It takes time to learn to do the right thing.

  16. Very late to my own party here, but just to reply to Jame Francesco: I don’t believe suicide = insanity. I think it depends on circumstances. I can conceive of many situations where I would argue suicide is and ought to be a viable option for a person. Not sure what I might have said to give you an otherwise impression? But abortion is common in societies. It’s been around long before modern medical procedures for it. Often the option to not have a child is very sane when circumstances are considered. I would no more consider abortion as insane than I would consider it insanity for a man or woman to be medically sterilized for personal preferential reasons.

  17. Tracie, don't worry, you haven't said anything to give me any impression like that, which is why i was asking :)

    I was curious from a scientific standpoint because, I think an argument could be made that the purpose of life is to continue living and to reproduce, both of which are negated by suicide or abortion. So i was wondering if from a strict biological point of view, like watching humans like one would a sample of creatures on a petrie dish, would killing yourself or your offspring be considered insanity?


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