This week in abortion news

12380249-largeBad News: Alabama passed a bill which pretends to be about protecting women but is actually aimed at shutting down abortion clinics on Tuesday. The governor has said he will sign the bill, ironically called the “Women’s Health and Safety Act,”  which requires that doctors preforming abortions be granted admitting privileges at local hospitals. Some of the doctors who perform abortions in Alabama are from out of state and thus aren’t affiliated with hospitals. The Alabama bill also requires that clinics meet standards of ambulatory surgery centers. Clinics would have to spend millions of dollars on unnecessary construction, equipment and supplies. These bills, which are less egregious and overtly anti-choice than the heartbeat bills passed in South Dakota and Arkansas are actually more dangerous, explains Carole Joffe, a sociologist at the University of California, San Francisco:

“Those other laws may sound more drastic… but one assumes the Supreme Court will not uphold them…. It’s the more reasonable-sounding things like hallway width, or requiring a doctor to have local admitting privileges, that some courts will possibly approve….These have the capacity to be much more devastating to the ability to provide abortion care.”

In case you have any doubts about the people behind the bill, they think they are doing god’s work and still haven’t gotten the memo about the separation between church and state. The governor, Robert Bentley, a… you guessed it… Republican, said, “We need to remember we are dealing with human life and this is what God expects us to do.”

Good News: The Kansas clinic operated by the tireless and valiant Dr. George Tiller, who was killed in 2009 by an anti-choice zealot (I mean, are we really going to call a killer “pro-life”? Sorry.) has reopened as the South Wind Women’s Center.

Bad News: Virginia passed a bill making it illegal for insurance companies participating in the federally operated health insurance exchange to cover abortions, except for in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. But that doesn’t go far enough for some Virginia Republicans, who are irate about these exceptions. Delegate Bob Marshall called the language of the bill “pathetic, ” objected to making exceptions for victims of “an alleged act of rape or incest” or women whose lives are threatened by their pregnancy: “It’s designed to get people off the hook….It doesn’t stop abortion … You don’t need any life-of-the-mother exceptions in the United States.” Ughh. saving the lives of women is so annoying and unnecessary. WTF, Virginia!?

Good News: The Washington House of Representatives has passed the “Reproductive Parity Act,” requiring that any health insurance plan covering maternity care must also cover abortion. The Act still has to be passed by the Senate. But at least the House and the Governor support it. And at least it’s an attempt to ensure and not restrict abortion access.

Bad News: The Mississippi State Senate has passed a bill requiring that a doctor be present when a woman takes an abortion-inducing pill and that  return to the doctor’s office two weeks later for a follow-up examination. Given that Mississippi’s governor is on the record for saying he wants to end abortion in Mississippi, it is likely that he would sign the bill into law.

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Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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