Friday, April 17, 2020
Good strategists know when to seize an opportunity. Texas began the trend by declaring abortion elective surgery permissible only if the mother's physical health is at risk. Seizing hospitals' cancellations of elective surgery opened a pathway for anti-choice politicians to create circumstances that all but eliminate the possibility for most women to obtain an abortion.
Other states followed. Arkansas and Tennessee among them. Appellate Courts have met challenges to the restrictions in various ways and Planned Parenthood has requested a hearing with the US Supreme Court. No response has been heard from the court.
Alaska has joined the ban-abortion contingent by declaring abortions non essential unless the life or health of the mother is endangered. Women in Alaska exemplify the hardship that bans create, particularly in states comprised mostly of a rural population. Abuse survivors, particularly, Alaskan Natives often experience their abuse without help. Adverse weather conditions, remote locations, poverty and few local resources leave survivors in desperate conditions at the hands of their abusers. The same conditions already inhibit rural Alaskan women from obtaining abortions. Imposing additional burdens on Alaskan women effectively eliminates their choice. Travel to another state for the procedure is unaffordable and risky for women in abusive relationships. Even those in non-abusive circumstances will be restricted by distance and expense.
The imposed restrictions already have removed choice. To argue otherwise is a fallacy. COVID19 related unemployment adds an additional stressor that influences women to choose termination of a pregnancy. The related loss of healthcare and other benefits makes looming or worsening poverty a real possibility for many women. Imposing the ban at a time when women and families are facing the most serious loss of income and the highest unemployment that the country has experienced is particularly cruel. Ideology and empathy are not compatible.