Fight for reproductive rights fires salvo at Capitol | Arkansas Blog

Fight for reproductive rights fires salvo at Capitol

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Arkansas Rally for Reproductive Justice 2017
  • Arkansas Rally for Reproductive Justice 2017

Another good crowd turned out at the state Capitol today, this time to make a wide-ranging case for reproductive rights, health care and equal treatment of transgender people, all issues that the Arkansas Legislature has shown a cavalier attitude toward.

Why are women still having to protest to be considered fully grown humans who can make decisions for themselves? Because it remains politically expedient in Arkansas to deny women the right to a safe abortion at 12-weeks-plus pregnancy, unconstitutional though it may be.

The bill signed yesterday by Governor Hutchinson is the second attempt in two years to punish women for their choice to abort. Two years ago, a bill that required doctors to use an outmoded protocol for a medical abortion was passed by lawmakers who knew what they were doing was requiring women to undergo a more painful procedure to terminate an unwanted, or wanted but untenable, pregnancy. Fortunately, the FDA ditched the older, more painful drug protocol the legislation wanted to force doctors to abide by.

The new law makes it illegal to use the dilation and evacuation method to terminate a pregnancy at 12 weeks gestation. That is the safest procedure doctors use for what is a legal medical procedure protected under the U.S. Constitution. That leaves women who discover at 12 weeks or more they are pregnant and wish to have an abortion with only option, apparently: Delivery, in a hospital.

So again: The lawmakers of Arkansas have passed legislation that increases health risks to women.

As Sen. Joyce Elliott said today at the Arkansas Rally for Reproductive Justice at the Capitol, her colleagues — "not one of them a doctor" — and the governor voted to criminalize women's health care without regard to them, their families or their physicians. The new law, she noted, makes no exception for rape or incest.

Today's speakers addressed more than just abortion rights. They spoke about transgender health care and barriers to transgender men who need gynecological care. They talked about sexual assault on campus and the need for quicker action and support of those who are assaulted. They talked about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and the threat to millions of people who, because they have access to care under the ACA, can afford contraceptives  so that the need for abortion is less. That, as Camille Richoux, who is seeking a master's degree at UAMS' College of Public Health and is insured under the ACA, the the law Congress is now seeking to repeal has meant that people no longer need to file for bankruptcy because of medical bills. That Obamacare means you don't have to be rich to be healthy in America.

I understand that no one can change the minds of people who believe that abortion is so wrong that those who choose to do so are immoral and should be punished. But what is next — passing a law that outlaws anesthesia or pain killers? Can't there be any empathy for women who've been raped or are carrying a non-viable fetus or who are financially unable to start a family? Why are they any less worthy of love than a fetus?

Sen. Sanders, still waiting on that information you said you had on how you can just squirt something into the womb to kill a fetus so that you can then evacuate it ("dismember," in (sponsor Andy Mayberry's terminology) legally.


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