North Dakota Passes Severest Restrictions on Abortion in the U.S.

March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On March 15, the North Dakota state legislature passed two bills that would become the most restrictive anti-abortion laws yet in the U.S. if signed by the Republican governor. The first bill was described by the Center for Reproductive Rights as "the earliest and most extreme abortion ban in the country, which would make the vast majority of abortions illegal after the point at which fetal heart tone can be detected—as early as six weeks, a time before many women even learn they are pregnant." The other bill would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion based on gender or because the fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome.

The North Dakota anti-abortion bills were passed just nine days after Arkansas adopted a law banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The outrageous moves in North Dakota against the basic and fundamental right to abortion don't end there—there are other bills being considered, including two so-called "personhood" provisions that would give the rights and protections of a born human to every fertilized human egg (which would ban all abortions), and another that would close down the only abortion clinic in the entire state.

If you thought abortion was "safe" because Obama was re-elected, look with open eyes at what's going on in North Dakota, Arkansas, and across the country, and face up to reality: The right to abortion is not "safe" at all—in fact, it is extremely endangered. Last year, there were 43 abortion restrictions enacted by various states—the second highest number of anti-abortion laws in history following 2011, when 92 such restrictions were adopted. And this year, close to 300 anti-abortion provisions have already been introduced in state legislatures.

As Sunsara Taylor said earlier this year, on the occasion of the 40-year anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. ("Abortion: Stigmatized and Endangered. Time for Massive, Uncompromising Struggle"):

"In recent decades doctors and clinic staff have been stalked, terrorized, threatened, kidnapped, blown up, and violently assaulted. As recently as three years ago—yes, when Obama was president—Dr. George Tiller was cruelly murdered as he worshiped in church. And neither Obama, nor any other politician, nor any leader of the major 'women's organizations' showed their face at his funeral.

"Does that sound 'safe' to you?

"Clinics have been bombed, set on fire, blockaded, vandalized, disrupted, picketed, and invaded thousands of times. Women are verbally harassed, spat upon, shoved and insulted in other ways in weekly 'vigils' by these fanatics, and sometimes more often than that. And this goes on all over the country.

"Does that sound 'safe' to you?

"More than one in four poor women who seek abortions cannot afford one and end up burdened with a child against their will. Women who are able to scrounge up the money must run a gauntlet of extreme and medically unnecessary restrictions from mandatory waiting periods to parental notification laws to being forced to endure a probe inserted into their vaginas, and more. Today, 97% of rural counties do not have an abortion provider. And whole generations have grown up never having heard anyone speak of abortion as something positive and moral.

"Does that sound like the right to abortion—which is the only guarantee that women can actually determine when and if they will raise a child—is 'safe' to you?

"Every step along the way, Obama has insisted on seeking 'common ground' with the most rabid anti-abortion Christian fascists—going so far as to welcome Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop who spearheaded a recent rebellion against birth control, to give the closing prayer at the last Democratic National Convention. He upheld the decision of his Secretary of Health to ban the sale of 'morning-after birth control' to women without a prescription. His health care plan will actually make it more difficult to get coverage for abortion…

"Does that—does any of this—sound like the right to abortion is 'safe' to you?"

The nightmarish flood of anti-abortion laws points to the urgent need for massive and uncompromising resistance—NOW. As Sunsara Taylor wrote: "If we do not reverse this trajectory soon—very soon—we will lose this right and condemn future generations of women and girls to FORCED motherhood, against their wills, and to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame."

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