By Cathy Nugent
A new law in Mississippi could have forced the state’s only abortion clinic to close. However the clinic, based in Jackson, has been granted a temporary injunction which will allow it to stay open. If the clinic had closed Mississippi would have been the only US state without any abortion facilities.
The Mississippi law says doctors who perform abortions have to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The clinics doctors have not yet obtained those privileges.
This restriction is typical of many others, used by conservative states, as a way of eradicating abortion without falling foul of legal difficulties in the Supreme Court over the famous Roe vs. Wade ruling which ensures US women have limited access to abortion.
Various legal restrictions and other forms of intimidation by anti-abortion groups (the Jackson clinic, pictured, has anti-abortion protesters outside it every day) have seen abortion provision in Mississippi radically decline. The state (which has a population of nearly three million) once had 14 clinics.
The state’s Republican Governor Phil Byrant does not bother to disguise his intention is to make Mississippi “abortion free”. Another state representative, Bubba Carpenter is equally candid. In a television interview, in response to the point that women may now resort to “back alley” abortions he said, “You have to have moral values.”
The Bubbas of this world with their kind of moral values (anti-women, anti- the women who cannot afford to go to Tennessee and Arkansas for abortions) are the first to complain about teenage pregnancy. His own state has the highest in the United States — more than 60 percent above the national average in 2010 – a sure sign of a place where women lack all kinds of choices.
Fortunately the Bubbas don’t really represent the people of Mississippi. Last year, in a state referendum, the voters rejected a law which would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of contraception.
Initiative 26 known as the “personhood” amendment would have amended the state constitution to define life “to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
Some in the anti-abortion camp thought the amendment went “too far”, would have been blocked in the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, and thus set back efforts to erode abortion rights by other means. Others openly said it was a tactical mistake to allow voters to make a decision on this issue. Too right it was!
However the anti-choice groups behind Initiative 26 are pushing similar ballot measures in California, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada.
Other things on the anti-abortion agenda in US are measures to make it mandatory for minors to involve parents when seeking abortion advice (even if at threat of violence or incest). That’s the sort of thing, along with unfortunately now so many other US-inspired anti-abortion tactics, that we could see in the UK.
Another thing to watch out for will be the showing (possibly by church groups if it doesn’t get a general release) of October Baby. This is a film made by Evangelical Christians about a woman who learns she is, as the movie puts it, a “survivor of a failed abortion”.
It is apparently based on a true story (that way we know it is really authentic and therefore impossible to argue against). Hannah, 19 is told by a doctor that her ailments — asthma, seizures, moodiness — are the result of being born prematurely after an abortion attempt. Hannah sets out to find her birth mother etc. etc.
Placed inside the road movie format to make it seem normal it is in fact pure propaganda. Yet the filmmakers (very un-normal home-schooled Christian Republican brothers) have the cheek to deny their political agenda.
Fact. This film was test screened in Mississippi just as its voters were deciding in the “personhood” ballot.
Fact. The film’s marketers are a company called Provident that specialises in this sort of thing. Provident Vice President Kris Fuhr denies the film is propaganda, claiming – typically for the happy clappies – that people who think such things are deeply troubled souls who can’t own up to their true feelings, [for these folks, she says] “there is something deeply personal about the movie that touches them.” Er, no! Just can’t stand your self-righteous, lying, misogynist crap.
Fact. Proceeds from the film goes to the filmmakers’ charity, Every Life is Beautiful (cue choir of angels), to fund money to “life affirming” adoption agencies (is there any other kind?) and the so-called pregnancy crisis centres.
That would be like the pregnancy crisis centres that are springing up in the UK; places where pregnant women go for advice only to be told (in some cases), “don’t do it!” (have an abortion that is). If you do you’ll get cancer/be depressed for the rest of your life/never be able to form a mature intimate relationship. And now it seems, according to October Baby, also risk a failed abortion which will mean for a child the same terrifying guilt-inducing mix of physical and mental afflictions.