by Jeff Woods
“This is a good year as far as victories,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, who named several states, including Arizona, Missouri and Tennessee, that are now more open to restrictive laws. “I do get the impression that the climate is friendlier.”
Our legislature banned coverage of abortion in the new insurance exchanges that'll be set up under the national health care reform law. State lawmakers also required clinics to post signs saying it's illegal to coerce women to have an abortion—an obvious attempt to intimidate doctors and their patients.
It could have been worse. Oklahoma is requiring doctors who perform abortions to answer 38 questions about each procedure, including the women’s reasons for ending their pregnancies. Also in Oklahoma, a woman will have to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before an abortion. Under the law, the ultrasound screen has to be visible to the woman, but it's OK if she doesn't look. Be thankful for small favors.
In Nebraska, the legislature outlawed abortions after 20 weeks, deciding a fetus can feel pain after that point.
Abortion foes started winning in Tennessee after Republicans took control of the legislature two years ago. Democrats could stand up for women and turn these laws into gains in this year's elections. They don't because too many Tennessee Democrats are against abortion rights too. The law requiring those anti-abortion signs passed the House 87-8 and the Senate 27-4. Reason #435 to wonder why we bother with a two-party system in this state.
Update: Ron Ramsey's new radio ad touts his opposition to abortion rights.