Women seeking an abortion don’t know what they are getting into.
Drawn-out abortion counseling and waiting periods prior to being allowed to have an abortion.
Various state laws require women desiring an abortion to submit to pre-abortion counseling. In some cases, the laws specify that the physician-counsellors give misleading or even inaccurate information crafted to dissuade the women from going through with an abortion. The “problem’ cited concerns the welfare of the women.
A common feature of laws relating to pre-abortion counseling is a waiting period between being counseled by a physician and actually having an abortion. In May, 2016, for example, Louisiana extended such a waiting period from 24 to 72 hours. A 72-hour waiting period was already in effect for Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah.
The National Partnership for Women and Families, examined a variety of anti-abortion restrictions and reported their findings in Bad Medicine: How a Political Agenda is Undermining Women’s Health Care. Here is a summary of what they found:
⦿ Requiring a health care provider to give — and a patient to receive — tests or procedures that are not supported by evidence, the provider’s medical judgment or the patient’s wishes.
⦿ Dictating the information that a health care provider must or must not
give to a patient, including requirements to provide biased or medically inaccurate information.
⦿ Forcing a health care provider to delay time-sensitive care regardless of the provider’s medical judgment or the patient’s needs.
⦿ Prohibiting a health care provider from prescribing medication using the best and most current evidence, medical protocols and methods.
⦿ Requiring a health care provider and/or medical facility to conform to burdensome licensing restrictions that are not based on scientific evidence and are contrary to modern medical practice.
Along the same lines, Alex Zeilinski reviewed what she regarded as the worst attempts to restrict abortions during 2015. In addition to “pretending women don’t think over their decision to have an abortion”—hence the extended waiting periods, here are some of the other techniques she highlighted:
- Forcing abortion providers to try and change women’s minds
- Telling women that abortion is dangerous and might send them to the hospital
- Assuming women are getting tricked into having abortions
In relation to the last of these, Zeilinski reports that some abortion clinics are forced to display signage “No one can make you have an abortion against your will,” and women may be forced to sign a form asserting they were not coerced into getting an abortion.
In South Carolina, in April 2016, Democratic State Representative Mia McLeod sought to dramatize what she considered the inappropriate restrictions on women seeking abortion by introducing a “Viagra Bill,” described by The State thusly:
The legislation would restrict access to medicines to treat erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra, by requiring:
▪ A sworn affidavit from a sexual partner detailing an incident of erectile dysfunction in the previous 90 days
▪ A report from a sexual therapist ruling out psychological conditions as the cause of the erectile dysfunction, and
▪ A cardiac stress test and report indicating the patient’s heart can handle sex.
The prescribing doctor also would have to provide a written statement explaining why the drug is necessary and notify the patient in writing about the risks of taking erectile dysfunction drugs.
Men also would have to wait 24 hours to get the drugs, just as women seeking an abortion must receive information and wait 24 hours to have the procedure.
The Viagra Bill was not expected to pass. Nor has it caused lawmakers to eliminate pre-abortion counseling measures.
Was the Problem Real?
Was the “problem” real? Every now and then we may hear anecdotal reports of women haunted by regret at having gotten an abortion. Given the common experience of women entering or exiting family planning clinics, being called “baby killers” and accused of murdering their child, there are no doubt cases of subsequent regret. However, there is no evidence that women seeking an abortion are uninformed about what they are doing.
There have been numerous real problems caused by these “solutions.” Restrictive requirements for pre-abortion counseling is made more
difficult by efforts to close abortion clinics—to be discussed in the next chapter. With few clinics available in a state, women will be required to make a lengthy drive twice to obtain one procedure. This is a special hardship for single mothers of modest means. They may be working a couple of jobs to support their existing families. Ironically, those women least able to afford another mouth to feed are the least capable of jumping through additional bureaucratic hoops to avoid adding another baby.
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