abortionpillnyc and Parkmed

Two supporting site for abortion help and information

Parkmed Physicians is a leader in women’s health care offering free pregnancy test, abortions, and full OBGYN services. This Blog is sponsored by Parkmed Physicians however it does not seek to give medical advice – for medical services you should consult your medical professional or call our office and make an appointment to meet with one of our doctors.

I am Heather MacGibbon, Ph.D. in Cinema Studies from NYC and author of Screening Choice: The Abortion Issue in American Film 1900-2000 (VDM Verlang 2009). I have been a counselor for women’s health clinics in the New York area for the past 12 years and a critic and scholar on the abortion issue in the US media for even longer. In this blog I will be keeping you updated on the current state of reproductive rights and advances in women’s health care.

As I am sure you are well aware – reproductive rights in the United States has come under heavy attack in recent months. It is hard to know where to start in looking at how things have gotten more contentious and complicated over the last year. What I can say definitively is that we are seeing as continuation of a three prong assault on the abortion rights: The Cultural War, The Legal Battle and Control of Access.

The hottest place in this battle currently is the control over access to safe and legal abortion care – which has spilled over into an attack on general reproductive health care for women. This includes both legal limitations on when a woman and her partner can choose to have abortion as well as limiting access through cutting funding.

Recent attacks on the legal front have come based on the argument that abortions beyond 20 weeks should be banned do to possible pain of the fetus. The most recent of these came last week in Iowa where a bill was passed by the largely republican senate to limit abortions in that state to less then 20 weeks into the pregnancy. This bill modeled after similar bills being considered in 15 states, one of which passed into law in Nebraska last year. A similar bill recently passed the Kansas legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback. Supporters state that these laws are based on research which notes that a fetus of 20 weeks or more has nerves and presumably could feel pain during the procedure.

These laws contradicts current scientific knowledge – as pointed out by Mark Rosen of the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of a seminal 2005 review on fetal pain:

“The first brain pathways associated with pain perception "are not complete before approximately 29 weeks of gestation", so although fetuses develop brain wiring from about 23 weeks onwards, the connections are not there to enable them to experience pain. As pointed out there are very few instances when this comes up – and is part of a larger attack on all abortions bring allowed.” (Coghlan, Andy “Breifing: New Law Claims …” New Scientist April 16, 2010)

Despite the contradictions with accepted science lawmakers have forged ahead with these restrictions. This nullifies the complex issues facing women and their families. It also takes away from other – more pressing prenatal issues according to opponents.

“Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic, a Waterloo Democrat, questioned why the body is debating an issue that has affected so few families compared to other maternity issues. Kajtazovic said just six abortions were performed in the state last year after 20 weeks of pregnancy, compared to 700 Iowa families that have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth in the past year. "What's sad is that we have members in this body politicizing what is such a personal and difficult decision," Kajtazovic said.(Henderson, Kay Reuters on line Fri April 1, 2011 6:32 EDT)

Similar bills are also being passed in Oklahoma.

“The 94-28 vote Tuesday ( March 29, 2011) by which the Kansas House approved a bill imposing tighter restrictions on abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy based on disputed claims that fetuses can feel pain. The House's vote was to accept the Senate's version of the bill and sent the measure to Gov. Sam Brownback .(Associated Press 03/29/11 1:58 PM)

These legal skirmishes come on the heels of several bills being passed and signed, or expected to be signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer which limit both which medical providers can perform abortion, but also the reasons that abortions can be provided.

“The law makes it a felony to knowingly perform or provide financing for an abortion sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or a parent’s race. The maximum punishment if convicted is 3.5 years in prison. Supporters said they wanted Arizona to prevent discrimination-based abortions, and they disagreed with opponents over whether there was evidence that race and sex selection-based agendas were actually occurring in Arizona. Critics said there was no evidence that selective abortions occur in Arizona, and doctors could face jail time if they lose a newly required affidavit that an abortion is not for selection purposes. “This law creates a highly unusual requirement that women state publicly their reason for choosing to terminate a pregnancy — a private decision they already made with their physician, partner and family,” Bryan Howard, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said in a statement.” (AP in New York Times March 31, 2011, on page A14 of the New York edition.)

These few legal attacks on abortion rights need to be seen in the larger context of the de funding of Planned Parenthood by the federal government which will severely limit not just abortion access – but access to cancer screening and general OB / GYN care provided by this organization. This and the other local and national legal limitations of different kinds are popping up encouraged by current anti choice environment of our current political scene.

In the coming weeks I will endeavor to highlight other legal and cultural attacks on reproductive rights as they happen.