By Nicholas Kristof
“Here’s what a woman in Texas now faces if she seeks an abortion. Under a new law that took effect three weeks ago, she first must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. Then she listens to the audio thumping of the fetal heartbeat and watches the fetus on an ultrasound screen. She must listen to a doctor explain the body parts and internal organs of the fetus as they’re shown on the monitor. She signs a document saying that she understands all this, and it is placed in her medical files. Finally, she goes home and must wait 24 hours before returning to get the abortion. ‘It’s state-sanctioned abuse,’ said Dr. Curtis Boyd, a Texas physician who provides abortions. ‘The state of Texas is waging war on women and their families,’ Dr. Boyd added.
That law is part of a war over women’s health being fought around the country — and in much of the country, women are losing. State by state, legislatures are creating new obstacles to abortions and are treating women in ways that are patronizing and humiliating. The new Texas law was passed last year but was held up because of a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In a scathing opinion, Judge Sam Sparks of Federal District Court described the law as ‘an attempt by the Texas legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights.’ In the end, the courts upheld the law, and it took effect last month. The best formulation on this topic was Bill Clinton’s, that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’. Achieving that isn’t easy, and there is no silver bullet to reduce unwanted pregnancies. But family planning and comprehensive sex education are a surer path than demeaning vulnerable women with state-sanctioned abuse and humiliation.”