Court ruling another step toward total abortion ban
WHEN a woman's health is at stake, whose role is it to decide what health care she receives -- the woman and her physician, or politicians who know nothing about her condition or circumstances? When a woman's health is at risk during pregnancy, deciding what to do is no longer up to her and her doctors.
Last Wednesday, five male Supreme Court justices unraveled more than 30 years of precedent which held that all abortion regulations must have an exception to protect a woman's health. They criminalized a rare second trimester procedure in spite of evidence from many medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that found the procedure to be medically necessary in certain cases. This ruling is an insult to woman and a shocking setback for women's health! A fetus has now been elevated above a woman.
This ban is part of a larger agenda to criminalize abortion. The hard-liners who pushed this ban won't stop until they've outlawed all abortions. They will begin working across America to change many existing hurdles exacted by state legislatures into roadblocks now that the court has given its blessing to banning a procedure without regard for a woman's health.
Planned Parenthood of Hawaii's top priorities are the health and safety of our patients. Each year thousands of women depend on us for reproductive health care services, including birth control, cancer screenings and abortion. We'll work to ensure women are provided with the best and safest care under this dangerous new law.
Last year Planned Parenthood of Hawaii sponsored a bill to amend Hawaii's abortion law, which was signed into law by the governor in April 2006. It became Act 35 and inserted a Freedom of Choice provision into the Hawaii abortion law which says that "the State shall not deny or interfere with a female's right to choose or obtain an abortion of a nonviable fetus or an abortion that is necessary to protect the life or health of the female."
On Thursday, Sen.Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the Freedom of Choice Act in Congress, which would codify in federal law the protections for a woman's right to choose as outlined in Roe v. Wade. It is essential that the federal government step in to protect women's reproductive choice since the states have widely differing protections for reproductive freedom. Wouldn't it be wonderful if women in every state had the right to make personal health care decisions free of government intrusion, as they can here in Hawaii!
Barry Raff is chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Hawaii.