[Vision2020] A Barrage of Attacks on Roe v. Wade

deb debismith at moscow.com
Thu Jan 22 17:49:24 PST 2015

Thanks, Nick! As always, well researched and well reasoned. 
Debi R-S
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Nicholas Gier 
  To: vision2020 
  Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2015 8:56 AM
  Subject: [Vision2020] A Barrage of Attacks on Roe v. Wade

  Dear Visionaries,

  I'm appending a longer version of the column that appeared in the DNews this morning.  The Sandpoint Reader is started up again after a 6-7 year hiatus, and they invited me back for 800-word columns.  The links at www.NickGier.com/abortion.pdf will not be operational until I return from Mexico next week.

  Today, on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, GOP Congresswomen blocked the introduction of bill to establish 20 weeks as the cut-off point for abortions. They cited alienation of women voters as their reason. Perhaps America will truly make a significant turn in support of a woman's right to choose.


  by Nick Gier, the Palouse Pundit

  As we celebrate a woman's right to choose on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, much effort has been exerted to undermine that right. As a constraint to this legal over-reach, the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that states could not place an “undue burden” on a woman's access to abortion.

  During the past four years over 200 laws in 22 states, more than in the previous decade, have been passed restricting access to abortions. Recently, the most common tactic has been to require abortion clinics to conform to standards that the medical profession considers arbitrary and unnecessary.

  Requiring that clinics be upgraded as surgical centers, and requiring clinic doctors to have admitting privileges in local hospitals, have forced hundreds to close in recent years. In Virginia the clinics would have to spend about $1 million each to comply.

  States have also passed laws that limit the use of drugs, such as RU-486, a safe prescription drug approved for abortions by the FDA. Although the drug can be administered by a nurse, or even self-administered after consultation, these new laws require that doctors dose them in their offices. 

  In 2012 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision in favor of Pocatello resident Jennie Linn McCormack, who had been prosecuted for taking RU-486 at home. Noting that only two of Idaho's 44 counties have abortion clinics, the judges ruled that the denial of self-administration placed an “undue burden” on Idaho women.

  A report on the public health threat of all this legislation, authored by doctors from three states, warns that these laws amount to a “stunning incursion into the physician's exam room,” and “blatant contradiction to evidence-based medicine.”

  Several states have required that abortions be performed earlier than the 24-26 weeks prescribed by Roe. A cut-off point of 20 weeks has been based on the unfounded assumption that the fetus feels pain. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the fetus does not feel pain until 28 weeks. 

  In Arkansas abortions must be performed within 12 weeks, and, incredibly enough, North Dakota legislators have stipulated 6 weeks, using a fetal heart beat as the standard. Animal fetuses, however, have hearts and they also feel pain.

  Rational abortion legislation requires that we must stipulate a moral and legal distinction between animals and human persons; otherwise we would be compelled to extend a right to life to most animals.

  One reassuring electoral result has been the defeat of “personhood” amendments in Mississippi, North Dakota, and Colorado (twice rejected). The people at Personhood USA use the first dictionary definition of a person as “a human being,” but in the second definition, a person is a “self-conscious, rational being,” which is the one that conforms with English Common Law. This definition does not apply to the fetus until it has undergone significant brain development at the beginning of the third trimester.

  If conservatives want to abide by the original intent of the Constitution and what the Founders believed at the time, they would find that they essentially agreed with Roe v. Wade; namely, that the fetus is not a person until late in fetal development.

  Conservatives legislators claim that they are only thinking of maternal health, but evidence shows that mothers around the world suffer horribly where abortion is illegal. The Guttmacher Institute reports that in developing countries “complications of illegal abortion account for two of every three maternity beds in large urban hospitals, consuming as much as one-half of obstetrics and gynecology budgets.” 

  In Latin America the Guttmacher Institute has estimated that 800,000 women are hospitalized each year for abortion-related complications. In Peru 240 mothers out of 100,000 die giving birth, and an estimated 1,500 Mexican women die every year due to the complications of unsafe abortions. 

  By a vote of 5-3 the Supreme Court voted to allow an appellate court decision to overturn a Texas law, which would have led to the closure of most of the state's abortion clinics. During Senate nomination hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts assured liberal senators that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” Presumably only three justices—Alito, Thomas, and Scalia—disagree.

  Let us hope that the five other justices rule that all of these laws constitute an “undue burden” on a woman's access to safe, legal abortions. 

  P. S. GOP Congresswomen have blocked the introduction of bill to establish 20 weeks as the cut-off point. They cited alienation of women voters as their reason. Perhaps America will truly make a significant turn in support of a woman's right to choose.

  Nick Gier taught religion and philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years. For all of his column on abortion see www.NickGier.com/abortion.pdf.


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