Thursday, June 16, 2011

HB 574, the Mensch amendment, & the pro-government Trojan horse

We're going to keep beating the drum over what's happening on reproductive rights at the state capitol in Harrisburg. Let me be clear, yet again: Women's access to reproductive healthcare is in serious jeopardy due to several pieces of state legislation. House Bill 574 and the amended Senate Bill 732, amended and hijacked by Senator Bob Mensch of Easton, would alter the legal playing field for abortion clinics in ways that would be so onerous that clinics would have to spend hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million, dollars to comply.

Supporters of HB 574 and the Mensch amendment, including the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, have wrapped themselves in the language of women's safety, as if we're all supposed to believe that suddenly they want women to have safe access to abortion care. Try wrapping your head around that one.

But yesterday the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference showed their true colors in an email sent to their listserv. The Conference made clear their true reasons for supporting the legislation and implied that they support the legislation because it will, indeed, cut off access to abortion care:
Today, the Senate voted 38 to 12 to pass Senate Bill 732, which, thanks to the Mensch Amendment added on Wednesday, June 8, would hold abortion facilities to the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures as other freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities. The Mensch Amendment was a courageous stand for the pro-life cause. (emphasis added)

"A courageous stand for the pro-life," i.e. pro-government, "cause"? Need I say more? Only the American Family Association of Pennsylvania- the crazy Uncle Charlie of the pro-government, anti-gay crowd in PA- has been honest enough to admit that they're supporting the bills because they could close clinics. Diane Gramley of AFA of PA sent an email to their listserv on May 9 that said:
The passage of such legislation would significantly reduce the number of abortions, abortion facilities and abortionists in Pennsylvania.

The pro-government advocates can try to hide behind the language of "safety," but their motivations are obvious.

(Aside: I've been struggling with what framing to use to describe those who want women to have no access to reproductive healthcare. I'm not a fan of "pro-life" or "anti-choice." I've settled on "pro-government" for the moment because these are people who believe that the government should make private medical decisions for women. If you have any other ideas, let me know.)

Update, 12:50pm: The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal has called out the supporters of HB 574 and the amended SB 732 for the same reason.
Forcing clinics to enlarge room sizes, which already are covered by building codes, or replace existing elevators with hospital-grade elevators has nothing to do with protecting a woman's health.

Pennsylvania has strict abortion laws. That's as it should be.

But the Gosnell situation is being exploited to make it even more difficult for women in the state to obtain an abortion.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a proposed Letter to the Editor

Class warfare in Harrisburg

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973 with certain restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. However, today the privileged ruling Republicans Class in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, not satisfied by the Roe restrictions, are busy thinking up and passing new restrictive laws regulating abortion. This new development targets low-income women who do not vote or who vote Democrat. Consequently we are now faced with a brutal, mean-spirited class warfare, and a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

The 14th Amendment was created during the time of reconstruction and redefinition of what it means to be an American that followed our torturous Civil War. This Amendment to our Constitution prohibits state government from depriving persons life, liberty or property without steps taken to ensure fairness. However our lawmakers failed the fairness test when they deprived the liberty of low-income women but not all women who seek to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

All agencies, professional organizations, and corporations including abortion providers deserve regulations that are predictable, fair and serve the public interest. Likewise there is a universal outcry of “unfair” when good and workable regulations are arbitrarily changed. Lawmakers are quickly condemned when they make everybody suffer because of a failure to regulate one bad apple. And so it is with this case. It is unfair to make poor women suffer by pricing them out of the abortion market because of the state’s failure to regulate one bad apple abortion provider.

Many writers and politicians make the noble claim that new laws make life safer for women. Not so. The truth is woman’s lives are made safer when the state dutifully enforces the regulations created to make women safe. Pennsylvania women deserve enforcement of current regulations and not a set of new regulations that drive up the cost and force low income women to seek an illegal, low-cost abortion regardless of the risk to their lives.

If a woman of means has the misfortune of an unwanted pregnancy, she may pay more or she may travel further, but in the end an abortion service will be available to her. But what about woman at or near the poverty level? Without being able to pay there will be no abortion. An unwanted pregnancy becomes an unwanted child adding to the burden of those desperately trying to hang on.

In class warfare the ruling class is slightly inconvenienced. The silent underclass is humiliated and the doorway out of poverty is closed.

Roger Buchanan
641 Kulp Road, Perkiomenville, PA 18074
215 527 7567 or 610 754 0223

11:02 AM  
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