Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Blow to Reproductive Freedom

There is an interesting phenomenon happening in this country. Conservative politicians are against government regulation. They want to limit the reach of government in order to have a free market system and allow for individual liberty.

On the issues of gun control, religion, taxes, the economy, the environment and health care, the conservatives are against most forms of governmental interference or regulation. They don't believe in laws limiting an individual's right to bear arms. They don't think there is a need to separate church and state. They want no taxes or they want lower taxes. They don't agree with the regulation of banks or businesses. They are against government assistance in health care.

How does the conservative position jive with the abortion issue?

Just this week, the Oklahoma Senate passed five new abortion bills which will extremely limit a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion and and create "some of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country."

One of the bills would force a woman to get an ultrasound at least one hour prior to an abortion and be shown the image and given a detailed explanation of it, even if she wishes otherwise. A vaginal probe would be used if it would provide a clearer image of the fetus, which no other state requires; three others do require ultrasounds, but none force the woman to listen to an explanation of it.

State Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore), the bill's sponsor, said the measure was designed to provide women with additional information before having an abortion.

Other pieces of legislation also require clinics that perform abortions to post signs stating it's "against the law for anyone ... to force you to have an abortion," forbid state exchange program insurance from covering abortions and prevent wrongful life and wrongful birth lawsuits.

One last bill would require the woman to first answer a lengthy questionnaire and provide information such as her age, marital status, race, education and reason for seeking an abortion. The doctor would then report this information - without the patient's name attached, however - which would be compiled and put on a state web site and accessible only by certain government personnel.

The bill's sponsor has said this would provide valuable information on who seeks abortions and why, in addition to helping create programs aimed at preventing abortions. Opponents of the bill, however, argue that this represents an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy council for the Center of Reproductive Rights (CRR), says she does not consider it "appropriate to use medical appointments and doctor-patient relationship to do fact-finding research gathering project at the expense of patient privacy."

A letter to Gov. Brad Henry (D-Oklahoma) issued by the CRR arguing unconstitutionality of the bill stated, "nothing in the Constitution or the case law allows states to require women to justify their constitutionally protected decision to terminate a pregnancy."

In all fairness, these bills passed with bipartisan support, "all five bills passed with large majorities, three of which passed 35-11."

This issue of governmental reach isn't between Republicans and Democrats. The issue is between conservatives and liberals. The Democrats who voted for these bills are conservative in their views.

So why is it that conservatives see a need to regulate everyone else's sexuality? They don't want to be told what to do but they want to dictate what others should do or not do in the privacy of their bedroom.

The liberal position is that government regulation is needed to preserve equality in health care, human rights and civil liberties. Liberals do have a point!

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