In the United States Senate this week, Democrats declared open season on pregnant women.
A hearing was held on Senate bill 1696, which has the Orwellian title, “Women’s Health Protection Act.” Introduced in November by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the bill has 35 co-sponsors (listed below) who apparently believe that women considering whether to have an abortion deserve less protection than a pet ferret with a tummy ache. The bill would essentially strip states of the power to regulate the practice of abortion within their jurisdictions, and give a license to kill to the Kermit Gosnells of the world.
Rather than write about the hearing, which was full of campaign sound bites and other claptrap, I thought I’d take a look at the bill. I’m no A.S. Haley (though I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once), but this is a layman’s reaction to some of the actual language, as opposed to the propaganda about “women’s health.” (Matthew Clark, Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the American Center for Law and Justice, does something similar at Red State.)
The bill opens with “findings,” which are usually evidence-based reasons for why the bill is needed, but in this case nothing more than ideologically-based assertions:
(1) Access to safe, legal abortion services is essential to women’s health and central to women’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States.
See what I mean? The first half of that sentence is debatable, given that 97% of abortions are elective and have nothing to do with preserving the health much less life of the mother, and the second is meaningless rhetoric.
(4) Since 2010, there has been an equally dramatic increase in the number of laws and regulations singling out abortion that threaten women’s health and their ability to access safe abortion services by interfering with health care professionals’ ability to provide such services. Congressional action is now necessary to put an end to these restrictions. In addition, there has been a dramatic increase in the passage of laws that blatantly violate the constitutional protections afforded women, such as bans on abortions prior to viability.
No specifics are mentioned because this bill isn’t meant to deal with a specific objectionable form of state regulation. It’s supposed to deal with all regulation. Like all nine “findings,” it present no argument, much less evidence, but simply asserts what apparently everyone is supposed to know is true. How any given regulation “interferes with health care professionals ability” to provide “safe abortion services” is irrelevant.
(5) Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. That safety is furthered by regulations that are based on science and are generally applicable to the medical profession or to medically comparable procedures.
As the editors of National Review Online pointed out in an excellent editorial yesterday, there is no “comparable” medical procedure to abortion. This is “something recognized by the Supreme Court, which describes the act as ‘unique’ and ‘inherently different’ from other surgeries. And, of course, it is: Abortion is in almost no instance a therapeutic procedure — its usual motive is simply the termination of an inconvenient human life.” Blumenthal and his comrades think, I’m sure, that abortion is comparable to a cholecystectomy, since both involved the removal of tissue from the body. In addition to the obvious moral difference between an unborn child and a gall bladder, one might also note that it is unethical for a doctor to remove a healthy organ without medical reason, while abortion is almost always the killing of a healthy person with a separate genetic identity from his or her mother for no medical reason. In other words, abortion is not “comparable” to other medical procedures, and must be regulated for the unique surgical operation that it is.
(7) These restrictions harm women’s health by reducing access not only to abortion services but also to the other essential health care services offered by the providers targeted by the restrictions, including contraceptive services, which reduce unintended pregnancies and thus abortions, and screenings for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections. These harms fall especially heavily on low-income women, women of color, and women living in rural and other medically underserved areas.
It’s safe to say that this wouldn’t be a Democrat-sponsored bill if it didn’t include a racial component, and it includes that without any evidence for its assertion. This is also obviously the “Planned Parenthood Endangered Abortion Mill Finding,” since the threats to PP’s baby-killing business are pretty much the only thing referenced in that first sentence. The typical gynecologist or obstetrician who ceased to perform abortions wouldn’t shutter his office, whereas Planned Parenthood does when its primary money-making operation gets regulated in a way that PP considers “burdensome.”
(8) The cumulative effect of these numerous restrictions has been widely varying access to abortion services such that a woman’s ability to exercise her constitutional rights is dependent on the State in which she lives.
Again, no argument, just assertion, probably because the argument is embarrassing in its stupidity and implications. The argument essentially is that if abortion clinics are not as prevalent as Starbucks shops, women will have to travel to get one, and that will make it difficult for some because they don’t have the money or means of transportation, etc. This is a theory of constitutional rights no one has even contemplated in any other area of life because it is so inane. By this reckoning, if I don’t have the money to buy a newspaper, my right to freedom of the press is abridged. Just because you have a right to something doesn’t mean the government has to clear away any and all obstacles (including financial ones) to your exercising that right, especially if–as is supposedly the case with restrictions on gun ownership, beloved by these same senators despite the Second Amendment–they are obstacles that have to do with legitimate public safety concerns.
Those are some of the problems just with the findings. It gets worse.
Congressional bills usually include a section of definitions of terms, and normally it isn’t a big deal. It is here:
(2) Abortion provider.—The term “abortion provider’’ means a health care professional who performs abortions.
(4) Health care professional.—The term “health care professional’’ means a licensed medical professional (including physicians, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) who is competent to perform abortions based on clinical training.
In other words, this bill recognizes a host of people besides MDs as abortionists. Midwives, nurses, and PAs, according to the sponsors, should operate with the same freedom to perform surgery as medical doctors. These senators are people who are normally outraged at the idea that a person without a four-year degree in education would be allowed to teach children, but they are perfectly comfortable with certified nurse midwives performing potentially life-threatening surgery. (For just one example, California–as pro-choice a state as there is–does not allow CNMs to practice medicine or perform surgery.) This bill would effectively eliminate the safeguards against unqualified people working in health care from performing abortions, thus endangering women.
Section 4 is where the real mischief comes in:
SEC. 4. PROHIBITED MEASURES AND ACTIONS.
(a) General Prohibitions.—The following limitations or requirements are unlawful and shall not be imposed or applied by any government because they single out the provision of abortion services
for restrictions that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures, they do not significantly advance women’s health or the safety of abortion services, and they make abortion services more difficult to access:
(1) A requirement that a medical professional perform specific tests or follow specific medical procedures in connection with the provision of an abortion, unless generally required for the provision of medically comparable procedures.
As noted above, there are no “medically comparable procedures” to abortion, so this is already problematic. Even to the extent that there are, however, there are grave difficulties. For one example, in most places only doctors with surgical licenses are allowed to perform surgery (though other medical personnel may assist), while this bill opens the floodgates to others. For another, this bill prohibits states from requiring specific tests unless they are “generally required for the provision of medically comparable procedures.” What other “comparable” procedure might require an ultrasound on a fetus, pray tell?
(2) A limitation on an abortion provider’s ability to delegate tasks, other than a limitation generally applicable to providers of medically comparable procedures.
In other words, states may not prohibit a physician’s assistant from delegating the task of removing the body parts of a dismembered fetus from a woman’s womb after the fetus has been pulled apart to a nurse’s assistant, if doing so is not prohibited in “medically comparable procedures,” of which there are none (and therefore no prohibitions!).
(5) A requirement or limitation concerning the physical plant, equipment, staffing, or hospital transfer arrangements of facilities where abortions are performed, or the credentials or hospital privileges or status of personnel at such facilities, that is not imposed on facilities or the personnel of facilities where medically comparable procedures are performed.
This is a real joke. Until recently, abortion clinics have been the least-regulated, least-supervised of all medical facilities. After the Gosnell horror was exposed, some states (including Pennsylvania) decided that enough was enough, and that abortuaries had to be brought up to the same standards and supervised with the same rigor as others. Abortionists, they also decided, needed to have the same standards applied to them that other surgeons had (hospital admitting privileges, for instance). This provision would go back to the status quo ante, and free the Gosnells of the profession from any worry that the state was going to stick its nose into their dirty business.
(6) A requirement that, prior to obtaining an abortion, a woman make one or more medically unnecessary visits to the provider of abortion services or to any individual or entity that does not provide abortion services.
The termite in the floorboards here is the expression “medically unnecessary.” What does that mean? I take it to mean pretty much any visit that doesn’t involved the actual abortion. In other words, any state requirement that a woman be enabled to make a fully-informed decision is prohibited. Consider this: what other surgery does a person undergo without any prior consultation, without being fully informed about the risks and possible side effects, on the day they decide to have it done the same way you would go to a dentist and say, “clean my teeth”? That’s what Blumenthal and Company want women dealing with tremendous emotional distress and possible pressure from a man to do.
(b) Other Prohibited Measures or Actions.—
(1) In general.—A measure or action that restricts the provision of abortion services or the facilities that provide abortion services that is similar to any of the prohibited limitations or requirements described in subsection (a) shall be unlawful if such measure or action singles out abortion services or make abortions services more difficult to access and does not significantly advance women’s health or the safety of abortion services.
This is the “just in case we forgot anything, that’s also outlawed” section. If a state does anything, no matter how much sense it makes medically or scientifically, that causes an abortion clinic to close, or places any financial burden on its owner or operator, or in any infringes on women’s ability to get an abortion any time, anywhere, or for any reason, the feds forbid it. (The part from “and does not significantly…” is the legislative equivalent of Charlie Brown’s teacher talking, since the sponsors know that lots of federal judges will say that there’s no such thing as a restriction that does either of those things.)
(2) Prima facie case.—To make a prima facie showing that a measure or action is unlawful under paragraph (1) a plaintiff shall demonstrate that the measure or action involved—
(A) singles out the provision of abortion services or facilities in which abortion services are performed;
(B) impedes women’s access to abortion services based on one or more of the factors described in paragraph (3).
In other words, if a state regulation mentions abortion or abortion clinics, it is assumed that it is prohibited by the bill. It is also assumed that it is prohibited if it does any of the following:
(3) Factors.—Factors for a court to consider in determining whether a measure or action impedes access to abortion services for purposes of paragraph (2)(B) include the following:
(A) Whether the measure or action interferes with an abortion provider’s ability to provide care and render services in accordance with her or his good-faith medical judgment.
(B) Whether the measure or action is reasonably likely to delay some women in accessing abortion services.
(C) Whether the measure or action is reasonably likely to directly or indirectly increase the cost of providing abortion services or the cost for obtaining abortion services (including costs associated with travel, childcare, or time off work).
(D) Whether the measure or action requires, or is reasonably likely to have the effect of necessitating, a trip to the offices of the abortion provider that would not otherwise be required.
(E) Whether the measure or action is reasonably likely to result in a decrease in the availability of abortion services in the State.
(F) Whether the measure or action imposes criminal or civil penalties that are not imposed on other health care professionals for comparable conduct or failure to act or that are harsher than penalties imposed on other health care professionals for comparable conduct or failure to act.
(G) The cumulative impact of the measure or action combined with other new or existing requirements or restrictions.
That’s a lot of legalese to swallow, but I can translate: “Any state regulation that impedes a woman from obtaining an abortion under any circumstances or for any reason is prohibited by this act.”
But even that is not enough for these abortion worshipers:
(c) Other Prohibitions.—The following restrictions on the performance of abortion are unlawful and shall not be imposed or applied by any government:
(1) A prohibition or ban on abortion prior to fetal viability.
Ah, yes, “fetal viability.” There’s one definition included in this bill that I didn’t mention above, because it’s needed here:
(7) Viability.—The term “viability’’ means the point in a pregnancy at which, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care professional, based on the particular facts of the case before her or him, there is a reasonable likelihood of sustained fetal survival outside the uterus with or without artificial support.
What this definition does is sever the question of when a baby can survive from any scientific basis, and places it squarely in the hands of the abortionist, who has a financial stake in the decision. “Fetal viability,” them is whenever the abortionist says it is, which renders the ability of a state to prohibit abortion after fetal viability moot, in violation, ironically enough, of Roe v. Wade.
(2) A prohibition on abortion after fetal viability when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating physician, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant woman’s life or health.
As we have seen for over forty years now, this translates to, “if a health professional thinks a woman might lose a night’s sleep over being pregnant, we can go ahead and kill the kid.”
(3) A restriction that limits a pregnant woman’s ability to obtain an immediate abortion when a health care professional believes, based on her or his good-faith medical judgment, that delay would pose a risk to the woman’s health.
Nothing that stands in the way of immediate gratification will do.
(4) A measure or action that prohibits or restricts a woman from obtaining an abortion prior to fetal viability based on her reasons or perceived reasons or that requires a woman to state her reasons before obtaining an abortion prior to fetal viability.
And at this point of overkill they are just repeating themselves to make sure that every state and every court understands what they are saying:
WE WILL NOT PUT UP WITH ANY OBSTACLE TO THE SECULAR SACRAMENT AT ALL!!! DO WE MAKE OURSELVES CLEAR???
This bill has no chance whatsoever of passage. It would be buried in the House of Representatives, and might well not even make it out of the Senate. But I still think the time and effort that have gone into it tell us something about its sponsors and their supporters in the pro-abortion movement.
1) The Senate sponsors of this bill must know that it has no chance of becoming law. That being the case, one must conclude that this is about politics, and above all about perpetuating the meme about the Republican “war on women.” There are a couple of problems with that. First, there is no polling that says that more than around a quarter of Americans support completely unregulated, unrestricted abortion. Most Americans either would ban it altogether or put a variety of restrictions on it. The kind of restrictions that this bill is specifically aimed at are overwhelmingly supported by Americans. Yet the supporters, knowing that most voters aren’t single-issue types, are wagering that by throwing red meat at their fanatically pro-abortion base, they can energize them enough to make an electoral difference.
2) The pro-abortion movement, despite its occasional tactical retreats, has never wavered from its ultimate goal of having abortion not only universally available, but socially acceptable. They know that when something becomes a matter of total indifference to government, it becomes a matter of social acceptability among the population. After all, if abortion is too trivial for the state to regulate, how important can it be? As that mindset grows, getting an abortion will become no more consequential than having your nails done. The idea that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” is anathema to the pro-aborts, who will only be happy when everyone accepts its moral legitimacy, so that they can feel good about being moral monsters.
3) This bill, then, means that Senate Democrats (and, I would contend, the vast majority of House Democrats as well) have thrown in their lot with the Molech cult. They, too, believe that the will and moral convictions of the American people are of no consequence. They, too, believe that abortion should be treated as an inconsequential matter deserving of social acceptance. They, too, believe that abortion should be as easy to obtain as a hair dye job, and easier than breast augmentation or an appendectomy. They, too, want to put women in danger so as to satisfy their bloodlust. And they also think that doing so will protect their phony-baloney jobs.
It’s time we sent them a message: “You see that flash of light in the corner of your eye? That’s your career dissipation light. It just went into high gear.”
Here’s who should get that message:
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Tammy Baldwin (D-IL)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Edward Markey (D-MA)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Shaheen, Merkley, Franken, and Coons are running for re-election this year. They should be made to own this and explain why they are in favor of unrestricted, unregulated abortion. In addition, those running in all of the other Senate races should be questioned on whether they would support this legislative abortion and why.