Tuesday, February 21

'Nobody else's goddamn business'

As Fritz reported yesterday, a bill that would require a woman notify the father of her baby that she intends on having an abortion is making its way through the state's channels.

House Bill 3199 is something much like the provision that was determined unconstitutional in Planned Parenthood v. Casey back in 1992. The Supreme Court found that requiring a woman to notify the father placed an undue burden on her right to an abortion.

Tennessee's incarnation of this ridiculous abortion restriction is, in a nutshell, this:

Physicians who perform abortions on women (18 and older) without first receiving from the woman a signed statement indicating that the woman has notified the man who got her pregnant that she intends to have an abortion will have committed a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $5,000. The woman, if found to have submitted a false or incomplete statement, or to not have submitted a statement at all, is subject to a Class A misdemeanor charge and a $2,000 fine.

The text of the provision reads:

It is an offense for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion on a woman who is eighteen (18) years of age or older unless the physician has received from the woman a signed statement indicating that the woman has notified the man by whom she is pregnant that she intends to have an abortion.

The bill makes exceptions for women who have become pregnant by rape (and have reported the rape to the police) and women who are unable to notify the father or unable to identify the father. In either case, the woman must file a written notice containing her name and the name of the father (or suspected father) with the Department of Child Services within 24 hours prior to the abortion. Their names will be placed on "the department's putative father registry."

There is also an exception for women whose lives are in danger because of the pregnancy.

This bill poses a significant threat to the autonomy of women in this state to make personal medical decisions without government interference. I've blown this trumpet many times before; you all know the reasons this is unacceptable and should be struck down. This is just the latest in a series of ongoing battles.

This piece by Anne Lamott sums up the basics:

I said I could not believe that men committed to equality and civil rights were still challenging the basic rights of women. I thought about all the photo-ops at which President Bush had signed legislation limiting abortion rights, surrounded by 10 or so white, self-righteous married men, who have forced God knows how many girlfriends into doing God knows what. I thought of the time Bush appeared on stage with children born from frozen embryos, children he calls "snowflake babies," and of the embryos themselves, which he calls the youngest and most vulnerable Americans.

And somehow, as I was answering, I got louder and maybe even more emphatic than I actually felt, and said it was not a morally ambiguous issue for me at all. I said that fetuses are not babies yet; that there was actually a real difference between pro-abortion people, like me, and Klaus Barbie.

Then I said that a woman's right to choose was nobody else's goddamn business.

Read the bill here (PDF) and click here to find your representative, and then write, call, fax, e-mail -- whatever it takes -- to get this outrageous bill off the table.

There's also more info over at Women's Health News.


Blogger Wendy said...

Doesn't this shit make you so mad you want to spit nails? I mean, seriously, stay the hell out of my reproductive system! And let's not forget all those unreported rapes. You know, for America, some of these bills are mighty restrictive of my rights. Does a man have to get his wife's approval to have a vasectomy or something? I highly doubt it. I know that's a terribly analogy, but, you know, men have NOTHING LIKE ABORTION I can liken to. Sigh.

Tue Feb 21, 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Damnit. That rant caused me to completely forget about the vermicelli I was sauteeing, and I scorched some of it.

Tue Feb 21, 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger oskiesmom said...

For someone who believes in grace, Anne Lamott is mighty quick to dismiss the prospects of every "unwanted" child.
There is dogmatism and rigidity on both sides of this no-win issue.

Tue Feb 21, 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger J. R. said...

Forgot all that- isn't this a patient-doctor cofnidentiality issue?

Wed Feb 22, 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

You would think so, but remember that women are merely walking wombs, and wombs are apparently property of the state in this freedom-loving country.

Wendy, you better believe I am spitting nails.

Wed Feb 22, 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger oskiesmom said...

"Women are walking wombs."
What does that mean, exactly?
J.R., pipe down, you got nothin to say.

Wed Feb 22, 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

I'm being facetious: I don't think women are walking wombs, obviously, but it's no secret that this administration and so many before it have held that not-so-subtle view.

And J.R.'s right -- there is definitely a confidentiality issue here. Bring out the libertarian brigade -- it's time to talk about personal freedoms and rights.

Wed Feb 22, 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger oskiesmom said...

Meaning that they are very like the women in The Red Tent? You bear the children whenever the man decides he wants another son.

J.R., I was making a point not being harsh. Imagine one of your "mates" has knocked a girl up. He's concerned,, so he goes to the doctor. The doctor tells him, Sorry mate, she doesn't want you here. Under this law, what can he do? Nuffin'. He's the father. Its between her and her doctor. I'm not saying there's right or wrong here, I'm saying we need compassion for both sides and all we ever seem to get is shouting.

Wed Feb 22, 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does a man not have rights concerning the welfare of his own children - that is other than to pay for them?

Wed Feb 22, 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Kevin: Quite simply, no. Not if that right comes anywhere close to overriding the woman's authority over her own medical decisions.

You're conflating "children" with "fetus that still exists and can only exist inside a woman." You're allowing the welfare of the unborn to trump the welfare of a grown, fully functional human who has a right to make decisions for herself regarding her body and what grows inside it. The state has NO AUTHORITY to tell any grown woman that she must first notify anyone else in order to have a medical procedure performed on her own body. It is her body. Not the state's. Not the father's.

If you have a problem with child support laws in this country and this state, please fight those laws. They have very little if anything to do with the debate over whether the state should foster compulsory pregnancy.

Wed Feb 22, 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

O'mom: This is an issue where so much is at stake that whispering will not do, especially when we are so close to being told by the people running this country and state that women cannot be allowed to make this decision on their own.

It is a complex issue. It is a private issue. That is why bringing the government into it is unacceptable, and why we must fight so hard to keep this very private matter just that: In the hands of the pregnant woman and whoever she sees fit to bring into the matter.

Some women will want to consult their partners. Some women won't. Why should we allow the state to make it a crime for a woman to decide that this is a decision she must make alone? Whose business is it? If you (not you personally, but you in the collective sense) think it's immoral for this hypothetical woman to take this secret to the grave with no concern for the father's input, then just pity her and pray for her or something. But don't dare advocate for a law that would force her, by penalty of a hefty fine and criminal record, to bring people into the decision that she may not feel comfortable informing!

I am rigid on this issue. If it must be labeled dogma, so be it:

NO ONE but the pregnant woman has any LEGAL authority to make decisions about the pregnancy. Morality and compassion have NOTHING to do with the law.

Wed Feb 22, 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger nashgirl said...

To address Okiesmom's and Homeless Guy's points, while I think that the man do deserve to know when a woman terminates the pregnancy, I don't believe it should be required by law. How can this law not be interpreted as making it necessary for the man to approve a woman's abortion? I would assume if this were made into law, there would be a lot more women that would be scared to get an abortion if they knew their partner disapproved.

Wed Feb 22, 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

OK, coming from someone who spent a lot of her teenage years volunteering at Planned Parenthood, let me pipe in here: There was a lot of debate concerning minors notifying parents of an abortion. The fact was, MOST of them did. Most girls came in with their mothers. If they didn't, they generally had a damn good reason. I wager the same holds true with fathers in the cases of abortion. If she doesn't tell him, it's probably for a good reason. That's generally how these things work.

Wed Feb 22, 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Wouldn't the federal HIPPAA law trump this state law? From http://www.hhs.gov/news/facts/privacy.html

In other situations, though, personal health information generally may not be used for purposes not related to health care, and covered entities may use or share only the minimum amount of protected information needed for a particular purpose. In addition, patients would have to sign a specific authorization before a covered entity could release their medical information to a life insurer, a bank, a marketing firm or another outside business for purposes not related to their health care.

I wouldn't consider the proposed TN law purpose to be considered "necessary for medical treatment".

Thu Feb 23, 08:34:00 AM  

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