Reproductive Rights Updates: Oklahoma, Michigan, Maryland, National

It's a mixed bag of news around the country--but at least there is some good news.

In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down draconian and useless anti-choice legislation:
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma laws requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them while they hear a description of the fetus and that ban off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs are unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The state's highest court determined that lower court judges were right to halt the laws. In separate decisions, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the laws, which received wide bipartisan support in the Legislature, violated a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case.


Tony Lauinger, chairman of the anti-abortion group Oklahomans for Life, said he believes the state Supreme Court has misinterpreted the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision. He said the Oklahoma ultrasound measure provides a level of informed consent for women seeking abortions, something he said the federal decision permits.
Yes, please do go on Mr. Lauinger about how a near unanimous (one judge had to recuse herself) decision from your state supreme court justices is because they don't know what they're doing interpreting law.

Oklahoma already has legislation that is in effect that requires a person to receive state-mandated "counseling" generally designed to discourage abortion (and then have a 24 hour waiting period). Obviously that's not enough "informed consent" for the likes of Mr. Lauinger. It's also not enough for State Attorney General Scott Pruitt who is considering appealing to the Supreme Court (of the US).


In Michigan, legislators are using their end-of-session time to try and compete with the likes of Kansas and South Dakota in being hostile to autonomy:
The state Senate passed three bills on Thursday that would ban abortion coverage in state-based health insurance exchanges and all private insurance plans, and another bill that would allow employers and medical professionals to refuse to cover or provide health treatment to which they morally object. State lawmakers are also expected to pass a so-called omnibus bill on Thursday that would impose prohibitive building regulations on abortion clinics and ban the use of telemedicine to prescribe abortion medication.
That last bit of legislation, 5711, the one regarding the TRAP laws--I wrote about that in July. The bill was rushed though the senate committee with little public notice. It isn't just regulating floor space or supply closet size, it dictates:
Sec. 2836. (1) ALL fetal remains resulting from abortions shall be disposed of by means lawful for other dead bodies, including burial, cremation, or interment. Unless the mother has provided written consent for research on the fetal remains under section 2688, a physician who performs an abortion shall arrange for the final disposition of the fetal remains resulting from the abortion. If the fetal remains resulting from an abortion are disposed of by cremation, the fetal remains shall be incinerated separately from any other medical waste. However, this subsection does not prohibit the simultaneous cremation of fetal remains with products of conception or other fetal remains resulting from abortions.

(2) This section does not require a physician to discuss the final disposition of the fetal remains with the mother before performing the abortion, nor does it require a physician to obtain authorization from the mother for the final disposition of the fetal remains upon completion of the abortion.
This applies for less than 20 weeks gestation. It does not apply if a miscarriage occurs at home. As I said in July: All "fetal remains" are equal but some are more equal than others.


In Maryland, specifically Montgomery County, local leaders are battling in court regarding consumer protection legislation directed at "crisis pregnancy centers" passed in 2010. The legislation states that CPCs must post signs in the waiting room/reception area that say they do not employ medical professionals and the signs suggest people should see a real medical professional for medical needs/questions. CPCs are, predictably, outraged by this "violation of [their] free speech"--thus the court battle.
[The county's] arguments, made over the course of an hour and a half before a dozen judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, were disputed by the centers, whose attorneys argued that the signs violated their right to free speech.


Mariana Vera, the executive director of Centro Tepeyac, said that the center has well-trained volunteers and aims to keep its participants healthy and safe.

“They’re really concerned about regulating us,” she said of council members. “But they are misinformed.”

Centro Tepeyac, a Christian organization that has served the Silver Spring neighborhood for more than two decades, is located in two townhouses behind the county district court in Silver Spring. Vera said that staff members do encourage clients to get medical treatment but that they provide a valuable service as well.

One of the center’s fliers in Spanish, titled “Raquel’s Vineyard: Healing the pain of abortion, weekend after weekend,” lists what it says are possible aftereffects of abortion: suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, “the fear of God’s punishment.”
(Pause; re-read) Why, yes, that person did just say their goal is to keep people "healthy and safe" while its centers also have outright lies in the guise of guilt, fear and shame in the pamphlets they stock. IMAGINE THAT.
At the hearing, the judges grappled with whether the law was an overreach of power. One of the judges, Dennis Shedd, suggested that if the law is upheld, legislatures could also require abortion clinics to post signs saying, “Abortion can cause you problems for the rest of your life.”
Well, Judge Shedd, that would be let's call it problematic because that hypothetical sign is not true while the signs the county requires are, in fact, true. The signs the county says must be posted are factual and not duplicitous generalizations based on bullshit.

The city of Baltimore had their consumer protection legislation struck down and also had their appeal heard Thursday.


Earlier this week the US Senate unanimously approved the National Defense Authorization Act which contains a provision championed and authored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen which requires insurance coverage for abortion for military personnel who are victims of rape or incest. Currently military personnel only have coverage for abortion in situations where the service member would otherwise die without an abortion.

The legislation now goes to the House, whose version of the NDAA does not include Sen. Shaheen's provision.
Shaheen said the last time the rape and incest provision made it this far in the legislative process was 2005, when it passed the Senate but was stripped out in the ensuing conference committee.

This time around, she noted that three out of the four committee leaders support the provision, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Armed Services Committee ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., who voted in favor of the amendment in committee. In the House, Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash., has sponsored legislation dealing with the same issue.

Shaheen said she hopes House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., will be willing to leave the provision in the bill.

Levin said after passage of the Senate bill that he is “very optimistic” a final bill would emerge from House-Senate conference, while acknowledging that the major challenge is time – with the current session of Congress due to end in less than a month.


“This isn’t about politics or ideology; it’s about basic fairness and equity,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, who was acting surgeon general of the Army in 2007, during an appearance at Shaheen’s press conference. “Women who serve our nation should not be treated as political pawns.”
You are correct! I'd like to expand on that thought though: no one should be treated as political pawns, serving in the military or not.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus