Monday, August 15, 2005

planned parenthood/naral minnesota both need to grow some eggs

Somehow, I missed this one back at the end of July: a strange, disturbing new law now in effect in Minnesota.

Pro-choicers, for the most part, didn't really make a big fuss about this, since it doesn't directly affect the availability of abortions, but it's mighty screwed up. The Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act was a "top legislative priority" for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a large, very influential anti-abortion group.

The law requires that women undergoing abortions after they're 20 weeks along be offered anesthesia for the fetus:
Directs that prior to performing an abortion on an unborn child who is of 20 weeks gestational age or more, the physician or the physician's agent shall inform the female if an anesthetic would eliminate or alleviate pain to the unborn child caused by the method of abortion.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota (PPMN) did NOTHING to lobby in opposition to this bill before its passage, even though it very clearly lays the groundwork for more "fetal rights" legislation, which, for the most part, nullifies that silly little thing known as the right to choice.
Sarah Stoesz, pres./CEO of PPMN said she thought opposition should come from Minnesota OB/GYNs, represented by the Minnesota Medical Association, and didn't worry her little Planned Parenthood head about it.

Luckily, the Minnesota Medical Association successfully lobbied against the bill in order to remove the clause that would make not offering this anesthesia to the woman getting the abortion - oh, sorry, to the fetus which no medical research proves can feel pain to be dulled with anesthesia - a felony. Once the felony clause was removed from the legislation, the MMA dropped its opposition, and the bill easily passed.
Now, doctors only face "civil penalties," which means they could get their asses sued if they don't offer the anesthesia.

But then, I can understand why PPMN wouldn't lobby against it. After all, in the entire state of Minnesota, only one Planned Parenthood actually performs abortions, and that clinic only performs them in the first trimester, so the legislation wouldn't affect them directly at all. In fact, most Planned Parenthoods (at least, all the ones that I know about, including every Planned Parenthood in NY state) don't perform abortions past the 13th or 14th week, something that I won't get into right now, but does rather irk me.

However, Planned Parenthood is more than just a family planning clinic organization. They are a political force with political influence and sway.
For them not to do anything about this bill which so blatantly establishes "fetal rights" sends a very dangerous message; that all we care about is access to abortions, and whatever doesn't deal directly with that can slide in favour of the more "important" abortion issues.
What bothers me even more is that NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, an organization which centers on the politics surrounding the abortion debate, didn't oppose it either.

But it's legislation like this that lays the dangerous groundwork on which Roe v. Wade can (and, if Shrub Boy gets his way, will) be overturned, the groundwork that anti-abortion groups are working so hard to make firm.
Because they know that when it comes down to it, that's what they're going to stand on.
And all we'll have left are the remnants of a 1970s-era Supreme Court decision that's falling apart as we try to hide behind it.
We need to not only fortify the base that Roe created, build on it, make it stronger, but also to make sure that their bases don't get built so strong as well.

And letting legislation like this slide is not exactly helping.

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