Mississippi Lawmakers At It Again | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mississippi Lawmakers At It Again

On Monday, I blogged for choice (just like I did last year) as President Bush gave a speech declaring the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to be "Sanctity of Life Day." The next day, in his annual State of the Union speech, he proudly defended war and torture. Interesting definition of "sanctity of life," don't you think?

Anyway, the Clarion-Ledger did a fine job in its Sunday edition of outlining new Mississippi legislation intended to ban abortion, or at least traumatize the women who have them. Among the legislation being considered:

1. A constitutional amendment intended to establish that the Mississippi Constitution will never be used to affirm the right to an abortion, in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned. No, I'm serious: Somebody actually thinks our right-wing, elected state Supreme Court, which wouldn't even overturn our ridiculous sodomy law, is going to be heroic and uphold Roe v. Wade even if the U.S. Supreme Court fails. Riiiight. Of course, this noble amendment must go before the people--and on the same exact ballot where our esteemed governor, Haley Barbour, comes up for reelection. How...serendipitous.

2. A piece of legislation forcing doctors who are about to perform an abortion to first perform a sonogram, determine whether fetal heartbeat is audible, and helpfully offer this information to the woman. This sounds decent in theory, until you realize that most abortion patients are low-income, an abortion already costs $600, a sonogram costs $400, trying to find a heartbeat in an embryo the size of a grain of rice probably isn't cheap either, and a woman cannot ask that these procedures not be performed, which means that someone must eat the cost. So this is one more piece of legislation intended to keep abortion out of the hands of the poor and uninsured (abortion has always been legal for those wealthy enough to buy a plane ticket).

3. An across the board abortion ban, of course.

4. A new law mandating that certificates of live birth be given in cases of stillbirth from 20 weeks on. The fact that this is a baldfaced lie aside, the fact that it creates identity theft problems aside, the fact that it patronizes women who have experienced stillbirths, and the fact that the real and obvious purpose of the legislation is to claim that one is alive and walking the planet before one actually is, I suppose it's the least offensive of these pieces of new legislation. I do think that if we're going to go this route, though, we should go all the way. I modestly propose that the legislators who proposed this bill further extend the culture of life by renaming death certificates as "eternal life certificates" so that there is no reliable evidence that any of us have ever been born or died. And for that matter, destroy all evidence of divorces while you're at it, since marriages are of course eternal.

There will be news in the coming weeks on ways that you can fight this terrible legislation, but a good start is to write your legislator making your views known. The Rev. James Evans (D-Jackson) vocally opposes this legislation and deserves our support; Senator Hillman Frazier (D-Hinds) has gone out of his way to betray the women of Mississippi, even co-sponsoring the Senate version of the abortion ban, and deserves several rounds of boos and hisses.

Previous Comments

ID
110008
Comment

I'm wondering how out of touch one can get with reality. Fact is, unless the Supremes in DC suddenly go hyper-conservative and rule against Roe V Wade, anything done that goes against that *cough*gold standard is moot. The rest reads like someone just hasn't studied medicine anytime recently.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-24T09:28:57-06:00
ID
110009
Comment

The sonogram bill stands an excellent chance of passing and getting by the Supremes, and would accomplish the same goal as the abortion ban: It would make abortion impossible for poor women. Not rich women who, again, have never been seriously impacted by abortion bans in the past. To say that adding the price of a sonogram and fetal heartbeat test to an abortion (tripling the cost) isn't an abortion ban is like saying that literacy tests didn't turn away black voters. That isn't explicitly the law's purpose, but that would be its effect. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-24T19:00:15-06:00
ID
110010
Comment

[quote]To say that adding the price of a sonogram and fetal heartbeat test to an abortion (tripling the cost) isn't an abortion ban is like saying that literacy tests didn't turn away black voters. That isn't explicitly the law's purpose, but that would be its effect.[/quote] Tom, for my sake, don't put Abortion and Civil Rights in the same paragraph. I'd never agree abortion is a right. Equality is something we should all expect. That being said, it is an attempt to limit the number of abortions. Is it reasonable? That's for medicine to decide.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-24T19:06:54-06:00
ID
110011
Comment

No, that's for women to decide. Forcing unnecessary medical procedures on a patient to promote a political ideology, particularly when it is being done specifically as a way to discriminate against the poor and combat the patient's intentions, is a violation of the patient's civil rights. I don't see how it could possibly be described as anything else. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-24T19:15:47-06:00
ID
110012
Comment

Please corrent me if I'm wrong, but I thought a sonogram was required before an abortion already. Technically, according to the medical profession, its the only TRUE way to test pregnancy. I think previously, though, they did this with the screen facing away from the woman and were not forced to TALK about it. This may be the only difference. Actually forcing the woman to hear the fetal heart beat hoping this will sway her decision. From my research regarding Planned Parenthood procedure (grad school...don't you love it?) they perform a sonogram before all abortions.

Author
Lori G
Date
2007-01-26T10:01:56-06:00
ID
110013
Comment

Yep. Maybe it's a state law? But yes, sonagrams are required here and Tennessee (that's where the rich daddies drive their little girls to in North Mississippi....) It's also the reason "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" which are masking as a Planned Parenthood push for the funds for a sonogram machine. Hearing the fetal heartbeat for sure, plus the imagery to sway choice. They will NOT give you any documentation to use this sonogram to go to the abortion clinic. However, they WILL give you a Medicaid form with a hug and a smiley face. THUS why I don't get the conservative/Republican/whatever label pushes for no abortion and THEN bitches about the drainage of tax dollars and the cycle of poverty.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-01-26T14:20:55-06:00
ID
110014
Comment

"I thought a sonogram was required before an abortion already. Technically, according to the medical profession, its the only TRUE way to test pregnancy." Lori, can you cite an independent source for this? Women (and midwives and doctors) have accurately tested for pregnancy for eons before sonograms ever existed. Pregnancy changes a woman's hormone balance, which shows up every time -- and very accurately -- in her urine. I think that to say a woman has to have a sonogram to test for pregnancy is completely erroneous, especially since very little will even show up on a sonogram early in the process. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is b.s. propaganda designed to make safe, legal and affordable abortions unattainable for many women, since it adds tremendously to the cost.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2007-01-26T17:29:49-06:00
ID
110015
Comment

This is interesting... From the JWHO web site: We use our physicians pelvic exam, the date of the last normal menstrual period (LMP), and a sonogram to confirm eligibility. Does that mean that all three methods are used in all cases? The all-inclusive fee for an abortion is $395 to $630, which is supposed to include all relevant testing. But a sonogram on its own generally costs about $400. I'm confused. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-26T19:33:59-06:00
ID
110016
Comment

I hear a couple of definitions of "Accurate" floating here now, depending on political slant.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-26T23:07:48-06:00
ID
110017
Comment

[quote]No, that's for women to decide. Forcing unnecessary medical procedures on a patient to promote a political ideology, particularly when it is being done specifically as a way to discriminate against the poor and combat the patient's intentions, is a violation of the patient's civil rights. I don't see how it could possibly be described as anything else.[/quote] I think you've managed to insult everyone who died so people could enjoy equal rights in previous decades, Tom. An abortion is legal, not a "Civil Right". A Civil Right is voting, or equal justice for all. I mean, isn't this democracy in action? Some believe that abortion is murder, and try their hardest to outlaw it. There's nothing wrong with that. Some defend the practice equally feverently. All legal. The true thing we should debate is would this new law be worth passing given it's loose basis in reality and the near-certanty of the Supremes nailing it to a wall with a smackdown. While I woud love to see the practice outlawed, I also know that it's not possible. We live within the society we have, or we try to change it peacefully.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-26T23:18:53-06:00
ID
110018
Comment

IG writes: An abortion is legal, not a "Civil Right". According to Roe v. Wade, abortion is legal precisely because it is a civil right. That's the whole point. Read the actual ruling. If abortion is a civil right, then laws restricting abortion are laws restricting a civil right. If same-sex marriage is a civil right, then laws restricting same-sex marriage are laws restricting a civil right. It's not rocket science. I think you've managed to insult everyone who died so people could enjoy equal rights in previous decades, Tom. I think most of the people who died during the American Revolution were not committed to civil rights for African Americans, and that most of the people who died during the civil rights movement did not have gay rights or women's liberation in mind. There is nothing that we fight over that would have constituted a civil rights issue for every single person who has ever died to protect civil rights. To refer to evolution in our standards of moral decency as an "insult" to all previous generations, simply because they did not share our definition of civil rights, is whiny and childish. If you don't think reproductive rights is a civil rights concern, guess what? You have every right to hold that belief. But don't go around kvetching about how you think dead people might be insulted just because I have civil rights concerns that they might not have personally shared. I think most of the people who died during the civil rights movement would be much more insulted by the fact that their memory is being used to stonewall further progress--as it so frequently is in the case of Dr. King, for example, where we are supposed to believe that all he wanted was shared public accommodations when every speech he has ever given loudly proclaims otherwise. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-26T23:39:49-06:00
ID
110019
Comment

Here's the deal, pickles. They do a sonogram to determine the trimester of the pregnancy. You can't get that from a hormone test. The trimester determines the procedure, if procedure is available. This could be a GOOD thing for choice because the rumors abounding in the Crisis Pregnancy Centers is that abortion clinics are performing and the woman is not even pregnant. They slant the doctor as one who would do the procedure without a sonogram, not knowing the age of the pregnancy and how does the girl know? She didn't see it?! The doctor just wants your money. They will also tell you that women have died at UMC from this happening. However, I do see where this is also an emotional appeal. I was just waiting for someone to site MY VAGINA as an independent source.

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-01-27T11:01:55-06:00
ID
110020
Comment

My vagina does not like that Certificate of Live birth thing. What's next? I must perform a funeral at the time of my miscarriage?

Author
emilyb
Date
2007-01-27T11:16:20-06:00
ID
110021
Comment

Fascinating in that the first time a constitutional right to privacy is mention is in this exact case, and only applies to this exact case; otherwise people don't have a right to privacy in the constitution. The court had to dig out meanings from Due Process and the Fourteenth amendment to bestow this "Civil Right" on women. I've read a couple of summaries (outside of yours Tom, no offense! ;)) and I don't see where the courts said "Women have a Civil Right to abortion". They said they have the right to consider it, but not that the founders intended for the Constution to protect abortions as legal.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-27T13:41:12-06:00
ID
110022
Comment

IG writes: Fascinating in that the first time a constitutional right to privacy is mention is in this exact case, and only applies to this exact case ... Uhm, respectfully: I call bullshit. Privacy rights were first articulated in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which dealt with birth control, and most recently in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws. The right to privacy, implicit in the Fourth Amendment by way of the Fourteenth, has only had to be explicated in this way in sex and reproduction-related cases for two reasons: (1) More obvious violations of the right to privacy, such as warrantless searches without probable cause, are more explicitly addressed in the Fourth ; (2) When you think about it, our government is a little sex-crazed. If they regulated food the way they regulate sexual intercourse and reproduction, it would have been illegal to eat soy-based products until 2003. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-27T15:47:15-06:00
ID
110023
Comment

IG writes: I've read a couple of summaries (outside of yours Tom, no offense! ;)) and I don't see where the courts said "Women have a Civil Right to abortion". ...and that's why you should read my summary, which is actually made up of the text of the majority ruling. ;o) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-27T15:49:14-06:00
ID
110024
Comment

[quote]Uhm, respectfully: I call bull----. Privacy rights were first articulated in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which dealt with birth control, and most recently in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws.[/quote] Both deal with Sex. A Right to Privacy is not among the explictly written "Bill of Rights". It doesn't apply anywhere else. Common Citizens are denied the right to privacy when it suits the government. Oh, and I've read the majority opinion, and it doesn't call Abortion a "Civil Right"

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-27T16:45:48-06:00
ID
110025
Comment

IG writes: Both deal with Sex. But not with abortion, as you claimed. A Right to Privacy is not among the explictly written "Bill of Rights". I believe a right to privacy is obviously implicit in the Fourth Amendment's language regarding the security of one's person. I am less familiar with the rationale for the right to privacy used in Roe, which is independently based on the Fourteenth Amendment's statement regarding equal protection and does not directly involve the Fourth, but I think the Fourth clearly does establish an implicit right to privacy that would be protected from state law encroachment under the terms of the Fourteenth. Common Citizens are denied the right to privacy when it suits the government. If this were true, then the solution would be to file more privacy lawsuits, not give up on the whole concept. Oh, and I've read the majority opinion, and it doesn't call Abortion a "Civil Right" I'm only going to cut-and-paste this once in the thread, so please pay attention. From the majority ruling (this is just one among many relevant excerpts): This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-27T17:21:20-06:00
ID
110026
Comment

By the way: The right to bear arms is also a civil right. We need to be clear about this: "Civil rights" are not things our ancestors used to fight for that we all have now so we get to prop our feet up and chill. Civil rights are things that people fight for, by tooth and nail, every damn day. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-27T17:33:53-06:00
ID
110027
Comment

[quote]Civil rights are things that people fight for, by tooth and nail, every damn day.[/quote] How stand ye on Gun Control, then? :D More seriously, I think one problem is we have differening ideas on what consitutes a Civil Right. I don't think abortion, based on a "right" I clearly can't share because of gender, doesn't qualify. Bearing Arms is in the Bill of Rights, under #2. Otherwise, I find myself understanding Reinquist's position more and more.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-01-27T21:47:32-06:00
ID
110028
Comment

IG writes: How stand ye on Gun Control, then? :D That's actually a fair question, and the answer is that I've shifted more and more to a pro-NRA position while writing about civil liberties issues over the past year, simply because I've recognized that my preference for gun control does not change what the Second Amendment says. If folks want to propose a new constitutional amendment setting restrictions on the Second, fine, but until that amendment is ratified, the right to bear arms as outlined in the Constitution should be treated as comparable to the right to free speech or security in one's person. To say otherwise would be intellectually dishonest of me. More seriously, I think one problem is we have differening ideas on what consitutes a Civil Right. I don't think abortion, based on a "right" I clearly can't share because of gender, doesn't qualify. Uh... IG, if you don't think it doesn't qualify, doesn't that mean you agree that it's a civil right? At any rate, not all civil rights are based on the "if they can do it, why can't I?" principle. Rights affecting the reproductive system obviously fall into this category. Forcing us all to get our prostates removed, for example, would obviously be a civil rights violation even though women have no prostates to remove. Likewise, forcing women to have or not to have an abortion, prior to the viability threshold, is a violation of her civil rights. The "if they can do it, why can't I?" definition of civil rights also allows discriminatory laws banning interracial marriage ("But both blacks and whites are limited by the law, so it's not a civil rights violation!") and same-sex marriage ("But both men and women are limited by the law, so it's not a civil rights violation!"). Look carefully at the language of the Fourteenth Amendment. Most people are surprised at how broad it is, and if the Court really did its job in enforcing the Fourteenth, we would be living in a very different country. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-28T16:30:37-06:00

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