from the editor

GROUNDHOG Day

Fight over abortion rights drags on and on and on

Posted

The opponents of choice never get tired of trying to enforce their will on the rest of us, do they? Just last week, they reared their ugly heads in Northeast Florida.

For several years, Ponte Vedra High School has held a charitable beauty pageant for boys called Mr. FINtastic. The fairest of all gets to choose a charity to receive the funds; this year’s winner chose Planned Parenthood.

Cue the villagers with pitchforks sharpened with self-righteousness, otherwise known as a small group of outraged parents with overinflated senses of authority and bank accounts to match.

First, their argument was that Planned Parenthood isn’t a 501(c)(3). When that failed, they resorted to prattling on about morality and pretty pink babies all in a row. They might have won, too, if the students hadn’t dug in and insisted that Planned Parenthood get the money.

Chalk this one up for people who believe poor women and girls deserve access to cancer screenings, reproductive care and the other medical services Planned Parenthood offers. But make no mistake; crusaders against choice aren’t done trying to substitute their judgment for that of women and our doctors. Not by a long shot. That they’ve been thus far unsuccessful at achieving their end game ’cause of a pesky little thing called Supreme Court jurisprudence doesn’t slow their roll at all.

Truth be told, fighting the anti-choice crowd is like playing Whac-A-Mole with that damn gopher from Caddyshack. One year, it pops up with changes to the regulations governing facilities that offer abortions, which would close most of them, making it more difficult for women, particularly poor and/or rural women, to terminate their pregnancies. The next year, it’s back with a proposal to require women to wait a day or three before getting an abortion, requiring return trips to the doctor, additional co-pays and time off work. Then it’s trying to strip funding from facilities that offer abortion, or requiring doctors who provide this overwhelmingly safe procedure to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals, or dictating the size of the exam room. It just goes on and on.

This year, it’s Proposal 22 to the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission. This seemingly innocuous proposal would restrict Florida’s privacy right to apply only to “information and the disclosure thereof.”

On the federal level, the “zone of privacy” created by the same Supreme Court who brought us Roe v. Wade has been applied to using contraceptives, raising your kids and looking at porn in your own home (Clay Yarborough be damned).

Fans of freedom rejoice, as Florida has an even stronger privacy right because our state constitution specifically provides for it. Infringements on our right to privacy must pass a strict scrutiny test, meaning the state needs a “compelling” reason to restrict it.

But if the Constitutional Revision Commission votes to put Proposal 22 on the 2018 ballot and it passes, Floridians will no longer have an explicit right to privately watch porn, use condoms and terminate pregnancies. Instead, we’d merely be protected from disclosure of our information by the government. Subsequently, legislation like parental consent requirements for minors seeking abortions, or waiting periods to get abortions, or those laws that make women look at pictures of the blob of cells in their uterus before getting an abortion, could all be coming soon to a vagina near you.

Advocates for choice immediately cried foul after this was proposed. They were likely on notice that something like this might be coming, as the CRC member bringing the amendment, John Stemberger, who halfheartedly claimed in an Orlando Sentinel op-ed in October it doesn’t have nothing to do with birthing no babies (or not, as the case may be), is president of Florida Family Action, which pursues legislation on behalf of the Florida Family Policy Council, a group hell-bent on legislating Christianity and fighting what it un-ironically calls the “gay agenda.”

To these ends, FFPC offers a bunch of “research” papers with charming titles like “The Real Planned Parenthood: Leading the Culture of Death,” “The Culture of Death Grows Desperate: War Declared on Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (you know, those places often found next door to legit medical facilities that exist to talk women out of abortions with lies, manipulation and misinformation), “Judge Lederman’s Top Ten List: Bad Arguments for Homosexual Parenting,” etc.

Check out the section marked “Good Bills” on FFA’s website and you’ll probably notice a pattern. (All appear outdated.) One bill would’ve given women the right to sue their abortion provider for emotional distress; another, sponsored by state Senator Aaron Bean, would’ve required the Florida Department of Health to contract with Florida Pregnancy Care Network, which, according to GuideStar, considers its mission “enabling [women] to carry their pregnancies to term and choose parenting or adoption;” another was called “Humanity of the Unborn Child;” another “Pain Capable Abortion Ban.”

You gotta give it to them, even after 45 years of safe, legal abortions, anti-choice folks take a licking and keep on ticking. It’s up to you and me to stop them. Again.

_______

Update: The Florida Constitution Revision Commission Judicial Committee rejected the amendment 4-2, on Feb. 1. It could still come before the entire CRC for a vote.

No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment