Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The determined fight against abortion rights

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It’s hard to see the fight against abortion rights as anything more than part of the overall war on women. The “pro-life” crowd talks a lot about the sanctity of life and the importance of protecting life, but they seem totally against any sort of gun control—and this same crowd, oddly enough, seems also opposed to government having a role in healthcare. Go figure.

At any rate, many states are trying to legislate legal abortions out of existence, preferring that the poor be driven to illegal providers and procedures. The well-to-do, of course, can always find legal and medically safe abortions, even if it means traveling to another state or even abroad.

Esmé Deprez has an article in Bloomberg Businessweek on how access to safe and legal abortions is being prevented:

In January 2011, Michigan State Senator Rick Jones, a former sheriff from Grand Ledge, introduced legislation that would dramatically raise the costs of providing abortions in the state. Senate Bill No. 54 would require fetal remains to be cremated or buried separately from other medical waste and make noncompliance a felony punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Soon after the bill was introduced, Renée Chelian, a petite 61-year-old who opened her first abortion clinic in suburban Detroit in 1976, called every funeral director and cremation company in the metropolitan area to see if they’d be willing to handle fetal remains from her clinics. Most told her no. When she finally found one willing to comply with the guidelines, the quoted price was $250 per disposal—which would nearly double the cost of most abortions at her clinics and was way more than most patients could afford. If the Jones bill as initially proposed were to become law, Chelian calculated, she and other abortion providers might go out of business.

Intimidation, harassment, and the threat of violence used to be Chelian’s biggest preoccupations. Her photo is posted on anti-abortion websites, her home has been regularly picketed, and one of her clinics was once doused in butyric acid, a clear, colorless liquid that “smells like 1,000 people lined up and threw up,” she says. In recent years, however, the main threats to abortion providers have come not from noisy picketers and protests but from regulations passed in statehouses across the U.S. Requirements that abortion providers be regulated more like hospitals than doctors’ offices may shutter most, if not all, clinics in Virginia, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. A Mississippi law mandates that abortion doctors secure admitting privileges at local hospitals, and could force the state’s last surviving clinic to close its doors. Instead of seeking to ban abortion outright, which would violate the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion groups are pushing laws that would make it too expensive for providers to remain in operation.

“If someone woke me up at 2 a.m. and asked me what’s the greatest threat to providers today, these laws would be the first thing I’d say,” says Carole Joffe, a reproductive health sociologist at the University of California at San Francisco who’s chronicled the abortion industry for the past 35 years.

The headquarters of Northland Family Planning are located in the Detroit suburb of Westland, in a standalone one-story building separated by parking lots from a GameStop and a bank. On a cold morning in early January, Chelian is trying to decipher how newly passed regulations will affect her business. She takes a call on her iPhone from a representative from a medical waste company that Chelian worries will face pressure from anti-abortion activists to drop her as a client.

“I don’t want them to start harassing you,” she says. “Do you have any vehicle you can pick up in that doesn’t have your name?” Yes, the man replies. “I mean, it’s your business and you have to do what you have to do, but I don’t want to lose you as a contractor because you had the name on your truck.” She hangs up. “Without medical waste pickup, we’re in trouble,” she says.

It’s one of the first times in months that Chelian has been in her office. Unpacked boxes from a 2010 renovation surround her desk. For the past two years, Chelian delegated payroll and other clinic-running duties to employees while she logged some 11,544 miles in her dark gray Ford Explorer driving to and from Michigan’s capital, Lansing, to lobby lawmakers and participate in rallies against a host of anti-abortion proposals.

Chelian grew up in inner-city Detroit, the oldest of five children born to a Syrian-Lebanese Muslim father and an Irish Catholic mother. In 1966, at the age of 15, she had an illegal abortion. Her father accompanied her to a parking lot where they were blindfolded and taken to a nearby warehouse. For $2,500, a man packed her uterus with gauze to induce labor, and after some complications, she passed the pregnancy on the toilet at home. She now guesses she was about 16 weeks along. It was decades before she told anyone about the experience, which provided motivation for her career. “I don’t want my daughters or any other woman to be faced with that,” she says. . .

Continue reading. And note this graphic.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 January 2013 at 5:18 pm

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