Earlier in the year, Missouri, a state with the grand total of one abortion clinic, passed a bill that would require a 72 hour waiting period between a patients first clinic visit and the procedure. The bill was promptly vetoed by Missouri’s Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, preventing the state from becoming the third to impose such a law. Since the state already has a 24 hour waiting period, you could be forgiven for wondering what pressing women’s health need justifies the increased waiting period. And since there is exactly no reason for the increased waiting period other than “trying to stop them sluts from killing their babies,” you could also be forgiven for assuming this is just another of the right’s endless attacks on reproductive health care. The reason for the increased waiting period, according to state Rep. Kevin Elmer, is so that women seeking abortion services have more time to think about a decision they already made, since they already went to the clinic to get an abortion. Apparently, in anti-abortion fantasy land, waiting periods protect women who go to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test, only to find themselves strapped to a table with a vacuum bumping around their uterus the second the test comes up positive, as the doctor laughs and says, “Oh, you didn’t want this one, did you?”
Waiting periods are not needed. Women do not find themselves at the abortion clinic by mistake. “Oh shit, I thought this was a crisis pregnancy center!” By the time the woman arrives at the clinic, she has already made her decision, and she has decided the best thing for her at this point in her life is an abortion. It is degrading and insulting for the government to force a woman to then wait 24, let alone 72, hours to make sure she is making the right decision. It is a misogynistic view that assumes women are flighty, making major decisions without thought, and that they need a paternalistic figure head to put them in “timeout” to analyze their choice. While some current trendy abortion restrictions attempt to masquerade as legitimate concerns about the health of the woman (such as requirements for hospital admitting privileges, and ambulatory surgical center standards, which serve no purpose other than closing clinics, but at least sound like they are in the woman’s best interest), this restriction, along with mandatory ultrasounds, falls firmly into the “women are too stupid to know what an abortion is” camp.
Waiting periods do real damage to reproductive health access. Many opponents of abortion access make the argument that a 24 (or 72 I guess) hour waiting period isn’t an obstacle for legal abortion access. Rational observers should be able to see this as a lie even if they do not personally see how a waiting period harms a woman’s right to choose; if it wasn’t a hurdle, if it wasn’t a deterrent, then anti-reproductive health advocates wouldn’t be pushing for it. The foes of reproductive choice may have a point about it not being a hardship, as long as the woman has sufficient means; if she has enough money, what is two trips to the clinic instead of one? And if she doesn’t want to wait, she can always fly to a state with different laws. The true hardship falls on the backs of all non-wealthy women. There is only one clinic in the state. A 72 hour waiting period means two trips to the clinic, whatever distance that may be. It means at least two days off of work. It means extra expenses. It is yet another hoop set up by anti-abortion lawmakers, who have decided that since Roe V. Wade stops them from outlawing abortion, they will try to force women seeking their right to jump through so many hoops that they give up and go home. Pro-life until the child is born, then the GOP washes their hands of it, except to rail against single mothers on vitriolic talk shows and in crayon scrawled letters to the local newspaper. They want abortion outlawed, but they are also against sex education and contraception access. How a party that is anti-sex gets anyone elected, I will never understand.
Why am I writing about this today? Because the Missouri legislature is holding a special veto session to strong arm the bill into law:
Earlier this year, Missouri passed a law that would require people seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours from their first clinic visit before they can access care. There are only two other states in the country, Utah and South Dakota, with such a restriction on the books. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the measure, in part because it lacked exceptions for rape or incest.
But as Molly Redden at Mother Jones reports, Republican lawmakers are planning to use a special veto session to take another vote on the measure, hoping to override Nixon’s veto. And as Redden points out, they stand a good chance of doing just that:
A vote could come as early as September 10. If the bill receives the two-thirds majorities in the House and the Senate required to override Nixon’s veto Missouri would become the third state, after South Dakota and Utah, to impose a three-day waiting period, the longest in the country. A veto override is nearly certain: In May, when the bill first passed, it received a veto-proof majority in the House and was one vote shy of this benchmark in the Senate; a Republican Senator who was absent that day intends to support the bill.
What will the next restriction be? All abortions must have the consent of the fetus to be aborted? Women must listen to a looped recording of a crying baby interwoven with a booming voice that shouts “That is what your baby will sound like in 7 more months.”? A 72 hour waiting period, during which you are handcuffed to a nun who alternates from explaining how you will burn in hell, to telling you that God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary all crawled up your vagina to lovingly place the fetus in your womb, to just crying uncontrollably?
How about a 72 hour waiting period before a man is allowed to take Viagra? You know, so he is absolutely sure he wants to have sexual intercourse, since there is a possibility it could lead to a pregnancy.