Alaska, Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, abortion — all of America’s “A” team are in up in arms with state abortion rights. Political parties, health care professionals, and activists are in turmoil with attempted laws, acts, and bills with regards to this sensitive health and human rights issue.
As Arkansas tries to pass the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, the most restrictive abortion law in the country, a federal judge overturned a measure that blocked state funding to Planned Parenthood health clinics. While last month Alabama passed the “Woman’s Health and Safety Act,” which may actually negatively effect the health and safety of abortion seeking women, and Alaska attempts strict and strange guidelines for Medicaid covered abortions, altering the rights of low income women in the state. Women seeking abortions, especially Medicaid holders, are having their rights determined and re-determined as their states and policymakers concluded what limits are lawful.
Senator John Coghill (R-Ala.) does not want to deny you your abortion, he just does not want the state to fund it unnecessarily. Pregnant low-income Medicaid holders without a medically necessary reason for removal of a fetus will not, if Coghill has his way, be financially covered Medicaid. If these strict guidelines become active, the vast majority of women who qualify for Medicaid, would not qualify for insurance covered abortions, explains Laura Einstein, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. Coghill’s bill would require a certificate from a physician confirming the procedure was medically necessary in order for Medicaid to cover the bill.
Einstein is concerned that “pregnant women seeking abortion won’t be treated the same as those who want to give birth, and that violates the Alaskan Constitution.” And when, “a similar measure was proposed in 2002, the state attorney general’s office said it wouldn't hold up [in Federal Court].” This lack of funding for the State’s poorest citizens causes concern for abortions that are not medically necessary, but personally necessary. Without this right, these women become second citizens and without personal funding they may also be forced to more dangerous scenarios to terminate their pregnancy.
While Alaska attempts stricter guidelines on Medicaid funding, Alabama passed elaborate guidelines disguised a women’s interest act. Reuters reports that the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation last month requiring an Alabama licensed physician present at every abortion. The Woman’s Health and Safety Act, as it is so generously titled, “seeks to protect the rights women have to a safe and healthy environment,” endorses Republican Mary Sue McClurkin, who also believes the act “is truly a women’s rights bill.”
Though having an Alabama-licensed physician at every abortion performed is unnecessary and would subsequently create a higher demand for Alabama doctors causing abortions to be postponed or procedures on a piling waiting list to the point of limiting women’s right to choose. Which is unconstitutional, so we’ll see how this goes.
Probably the most conservative and limiting document on abortion trying to pass was Arkansas’s Human Heartbeat Act, which Gov. Mike Beebe (D-Ark.) vetoed earlier this week. The Human Heartbeat Act would require testing to determine “whether the fetus that that the pregnant woman is carrying possesses a detectable heartbeat,” CNN reports.
“Abortions would have been banned if the fetus had a detected heartbeat ‘and is under 12 weeks or greater gestation.’” If the state legislature overrides Beebe’s veto, this extremely limiting and narrow-minded bill could still be put into effect. It passed by 26-8 vote in the Senate and by 68-20 in the House. Beebe has also vetoed a bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks, but this veto was overridden by state legislature. Arkansas seems to know that it wants strict laws on abortion, but the procedure is again being ruled in the favor of the pregnant woman and her right to choose.
The New York Times reports an Arizona law against Planned Parenthood funding that went into effect last May was overturned this February by Federal Judge Neil V. Wake. The law blocked State financing for Planned Parenthood health clinics because the clinics also performed abortions.
In Federal District Court, the law unconstitutionally denied individuals on Medicaid the ability to choose health services and “the Arizona act violates the freedom of chose provision of the Medicaid Act precisely because every Medicaid beneficiary has the right to select an qualified health care provider,” Judge Wake ruled. This is similar to Medicaid conflicts in Alaska, but was overturned as it prevented any services through Planned Parenthood uncovered by Medicaid; Planned Parenthood provides much more than abortions.
Arizona, which had the widest over all ban — not allowing Medicaid insured to use Planned Parenthood health clinics — was federally ruled unlawful. In Alaska, their similar desire to prevent state finances from covering abortions is more detailed with red tape, but Senator Coghill’s guidelines may more than likely be deemed as unconstitutional as well — due to the treatment of pregnant women who desire abortions second citizens to pregnant women those who do not. Alabama’s passed Women’s Health and Safety Act is a disguised scenario that will make abortions in the state much more difficult and more expensive, Medicaid or not.
Arkansas’s Human Heartbeat Act is the most blatantly conservative act limiting abortion and women’s rights, deeming that fetuses with a heartbeat cannot be terminated in the state. Some states are very determined to continue limits on abortions removing accessibility to health procedures to a portion of citizens. Overturns and vetoes aid in the fight to ensure the rights of American citizens, but the jury is still out.