The Slow Suffocation Of Women's Health Rights

The past week has been unfortunate for women's rights and reproductive health. On Friday night the <a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/08/are-virginas-new-abortion-regs-worst-yet ">super strict abortion law passed by the Virginia Legislature

The past week has been unfortunate for women's rights and reproductive health. On Friday night the super strict abortion law passed by the Virginia Legislature took effect. The new regulations require that the 22 clinics that perform abortions now must comply with physical standards that may require buildings to be rebuilt, renovated, or facilities to be moved at significant costs to the clinics of course.

The new restrictions that require five-foot wide hall ways and 250 square-foot operating rooms are a kind of financial asphyxiation of women's health care resources in the state of Virginia. Since anti-choice advocates can't overturn Roe, despite their best efforts, and voters are too worried about jobs and the economy to take anti-choice legislation seriously, they're just going to work slowly to bankrupt anyone providing women's health out of the business.

The same law that Virginia passed and is now enforcing was also passed in Kansas earlier this summer that would have closed all but one abortion clinic. Perhaps, realizing that the law was an effort to make [or "was part of efforts to make"] the compliance standards difficult and nearly impossible, a
judge blocked the state from enforcing those regulations and shutting down the clinics.

The other interesting news in Kansas, however, is a strange law that was passed very late in the legislative session this year that some even think was in violation of the rules. It prohibits any insurance company from providing coverage for elective or necessary abortion procedures. Women requiring these services would have to obtain an insurance rider under the new law - but when the petitioner in the suit asked her insurance company for the rider she was informed that an insurance rider doesn't exist. The law also does not provide an exemption for the life and health of the mother nor does it provide any coverage for women who are the victims of rape or incest. Those women would also have to obtain an insurance rider for the insurer to provide the procedure - but again - the riders don't exist.

The Kansas ACLU is suing the Insurance Commissioner saying that these practices are discriminatory to women because they don't require men to obtain separate insurance riders for procedures. Interestingly, when this bill came up last session there was a lot of activity on the House floor with members who said that it shouldn't stop at abortion coverage riders. Members attached amendments to the bill that would require that prescriptions for Viagra would require a rider, treatment for smoking would also not be covered unless a rider was obtained. So many amendments were attached for so many things that the bill was sent back to committee where it promptly died.

An op-ed in the New York Times explains the ACLU's argument far better than I can:

"The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in Federal District Court in Kansas, argues persuasively that the law is unconstitutional because it essentially levies a tax on a constitutionally protected procedure. It also charges that the ban on abortion coverage amounts to sex discrimination because it prevents women from buying plans covering all of their health care needs while imposing no limitations on men’s medical needs."

When contacted about the suit, Kari Ann Rinker, who is also the state coordinator for the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women, said that the ACLU argument is certainly a valid one.

"It's discriminatory to isolate a legal procedure for political purposes," Rinker said.
" Rinker said. "It is legal health care and it's not for them to deny legal health care to citizens."

Rinker previously testified on the bill last year in the Insurance Committee as a spokesperson for Kansas NOW.

"Quite simply, this bill inserts the belief systems of some into bad health insurance policy for all. It reaches beyond the recent national debate surrounding health care, abortion and insurance. If people morally oppose insurance policies that cover abortion, let them select one that does not. Let them take their complaint to their agent. Let the private market sort out these issues, rather than enacting a state mandate to address it. is opened, it may very well prove difficult to shut."

This is a matter of private money and private business.

An op-ed in the New York Times explains the ACLU's argument far better than I can:

"The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in Federal District Court in Kansas, argues persuasively that the law is unconstitutional because it essentially levies a tax on a constitutionally protected procedure. It also charges that the ban on abortion coverage amounts to sex discrimination because it prevents women from buying plans covering all of their health care needs while imposing no limitations on men’s medical needs."

When contacted about the suite Kari Ann Rinker who is also the state coordinator for the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women said that the ACLU argument is certainly a valid one

"It's discriminatory to isolate a legal procedure for political purposes" Rinker said. "It is legal health care and it's not for them to deny legal health care to citizens."

Rinker previously testifyed on the bill last year in the Insurance Committee as a spokesperson for Kansas NOW

"Quite simply, this bill inserts the belief systems of some into bad health insurance policy for all. It reaches beyond the recent national debate surrounding health care, abortion and insurance. If people morally oppose insurance policies that cover abortion, let them select one that does not. Let them take their complaint to their agent. Let the private market sort out these issues, rather than enacting a state mandate to address it. This is a matter of private money and private business. Once this door of government infringement is opened, it may very well prove difficult to shut."

Kansas is no stranger to fighting for the rights of women. In 2009 late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was gunned down by a right-wing terrorist affiliated with the anti-choice movement. The war for women's health rages on.

Hearings on the new standards for clinics in Kansas is set for a week from today on September 7th and the court date for the injunction in the health insurance discrimination suite is September 16th.

Kansas is no stranger to fighting for the rights of women. In 2009 late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was gunned down by a right-wing terrorist affiliated with the anti-choice movement. The war for women's health rages on.

A hearing on the new standards for clinics in Kansas is set for a week from today on September 7th and the court date for the injunction in the health insurance discrimination suite is September 16th.

About SarahBurris

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Sarah is a current editor for FutureMajority.com. She is a former partner in the online media firm Mixed Media that worked in Kansas and Oklahoma and manages social media and online marketing for non-profits and political candidates in two states and Washington DC. Previously, Sarah worked for Skyline Public Works where she helped state based youth organizations connect with major funders across the country. In 2008 was named one of the five Rock the Vote Rock the Trail Reporters and reported on the election from the youth perspective attending the Democratic and Republican Conventions, Ron Paul's Un-Convention, the first debate at Ole Miss and the Vice Presidential Debate in St. Louis as well as a reporter that interviewed leaders across the country including Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Bob Barr, Gavin Newsome, and many more. Sarah was one of the first ever recipients of the Democracy for America Netroots Nation scholarship and in 2009 was named by the New Leader's Council as one of the 40 Emerging Leaders Under 40 in the United States. In 2010 Sarah was named by the Oklahoma Truth Council as one of the 25 young Oklahomans to watch which she jokes is because both parties prefer to "keep an eye" on her. She is a founding blogger at Everyday Citizen, and was a long time writer and researcher for Wiretap Magazine. She's excited to join the writing crew at Crooks and Liars and continue to hold our leaders accountable. Opinions written here are my own and not a reflection of my employer.

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