Crist’s Veto Of Restrictive Ultrasound Measure Is A Small Bright Spot For Choice Advocates

CharlieCrist-JoeRaedleEarlier today, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill requiring women to view an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion. “This bill places an inappropriate burden on a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy,” Crist said in his veto message. “[P]ersonal vies should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary. In this case, such action would vioalte a woman’s right to privacy.”

Crist’s veto was expected, but his action is one of the few bright spots in what many pro-choice advocates see as a dark cloud of regressive abortion measures on the state level. Since President Obama signed health care reform into law, a significant number of states have taken advantage of the law’s carefully negotiated abortion provisions to restrict access to abortion coverage. The effort is being coordinated by Americans United for Life (AUL), a national anti-abortion group that released abortion opt-out legislation immediately after the law passed.

I’ve been trying to keep track of these developments in this space, but CAP’s Jessica Arons and Alex Cawthorne have just released a more comprehensive review of state-based abortion measures. As they point out, “the sponsors of these bills claim that their legislation only restricts public funding of abortion care. But closer inspection reveals that these bills mimic the infamous Stupak Amendment, which abortion-rights proponents fought so hard to beat back in federal legislation, and will broadly limit private coverage of abortion in the states where these bills are enacted“:

– 14: The number of states that have introduced laws this year that ban or limit abortion coverage in private insurance plans—either those purchased in the new health exchanges, in private markets outside of those exchanges, in government employee plans, or some combination thereof. So far, Arizona, Mississippi, and Tennessee have enacted such bills.

– 18: The number of states that have introduced legislation this year that requires abortion providers to offer their patients an ultrasound. Half of these bills mandate that the provider perform the ultrasound, regardless of whether the woman wants one, and a few go so far as to require the provider to show and/or describe the image to the woman.

– 14: The number of states that have introduced legislation or ballot initiatives this year to amend the state constitution to establish that legal personhood begins at conception, which would limit access to abortion, contraception, fertility treatments, and other medical services.

– 9: The number of states that have introduced bills this year that would criminalize abortions done purportedly because of the sex or race of the fetus.* Only Oklahoma’s bill has thus far become law.

– 1: The number of laws enacted this year (in Utah) that define criminal homicide to include a “knowing” act by a pregnant woman that causes a miscarriage or stillbirth. This bill is so broad that it could apply to a woman who smokes cigarettes or takes prescription medication.

It’s a long and depressing list and if Crist’s independent candidacy for the Senate accomplishes anything, keeping Florida off it, seems like something worth celebrating. Read the full report HERE.