While Republicans consider a compromise regarding the looming “fiscal cliff,” they insist on refusing to learn the lessons of this month’s election when it comes to social issues like abortion. Nationally, the GOP seems to regard the fact that they still maintain majority in the House, one of the few places where they didn’t suffer humiliating defeat, as a mandate from the people. We have already seen this happen in their steadfast refusal to vote for the Senate’s Violence Against Women Act because it would protect Native American women, immigrants, and gay, lesbian or transgender individuals. Unfortunately, as the few states who are still held in Republican majority begin their legislative sessions, we also are witness to brazen acts against women’s rights on a state level.
Arkansas is one of those states that have a Republican House, Senate, and governorship. Enthused by the supposed mandate of the 2012 election, Arkansas state leaders have chosen to direct their energies not toward job creation or other economic solutions, but toward their sick fixation with abortion. One man, Rep. Andy Mayberry, was very enthused by the majority his party holds in that state and his chances for pushing through anti-choice laws that severely limit women’s access to abortion and contraception:
“I will say that basically any opportunity now is more than any opportunity than we had in the previous session.”
When I asked UniteWomen.Org’s Arkansas State Director, Jennifer Moser, what she and her organization thought about the impending threat of new legislation from Rep. Mayberry and his friends, she was very concerned. In her written response to me she said that, “The war on women is far from over.” In fact, what she describes is obviously just that, an organized attack on women as part of the War on Women:
“Pro-Life organizations in Arkansas are pushing lawmakers to pass anti-choice legislation for the upcoming 89th general assembly. Arkansas Right To Life is currently petitioning residents on anti-choice legislation. According to their website, they are requesting signatures to ban “web cam” abortions, to ban abortions on an unborn child capable of feeling pain, and to opt out of the abortion coverage in the Obama healthcare law.
“There have been bills in the past that have tried to limit or ban abortions in Arkansas. The most recent, HB1887, which was sponsored by Rep. Andy Mayberry, was adjourned without assigning a date for further decision.
“At the present, Arkansas bans a safe second trimester abortion without exception (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 20-16-1201 to -1206). Women seeking abortions in Arkansas must go through mandatory counseling that could induce guilt or doubt, including enlarged pictures of aborted fetuses and offers to view an ultrasound of the fetus (Ark. Code Ann. §§ 20-16-901 to -908, -1101 to -1111). There are also restrictions on abortion coverage for state employees. In addition to an abortion and contraception refusal clause that allow certain individuals or hospitals to refuse a woman requesting an abortion or to refuse to prescribe contraceptive supplies or information.
“The current laws and the upcoming proposed legislation are a direct violation of a woman’s right to choose when and how she procreates. There is conflicting information about whether or not a fetus canfeel pain at 20 weeks and studies conducted at the University of California San Francisco suggest that the fetus cannot start to feel pain until it is at or beyond 24 weeks.
“Now that the Republicans have majority in both the House and Senate, many people are hoping that the proposed legislation will fly through without any opposition.”
It seems that Ms. Moser has hit the nail on the head. In the states where anti-choice legislation is being proposed to congresses of Republican majority, it is expected to fly through without any opposition. Think Progress reports that in some states, like Ohio, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Arizona, women’s health and their right to choose are being seriously threatened in spite of the fact that:
“Voters across the country rejected radical anti-choice legislation in this month’s election, and far-right candidates whose campaigns centered on denying women abortion access overwhelmingly lost their races.”