The Southwest Sweep

Activity seems to have been limited to the Southwest this weekend, namely Utah and, of course, Arizona. They would just hate to fall behind on restricting women’s rights. I’ll keep this short and sweet.

On Tuesday, Utah will become the first state in the country to require a 72-hour waiting period for abortions. South Dakota tried this already, but failed. Utah legislators, however, are very insistent that women need to be forced by the government to consider their actions before following through on them. “At the end of the day, it’s a consumer-protection law,” said the bill’s sponsor, Steve Eliason. “The focus of this bill is women having time to consider all of the information that is given to them when facing a life-altering decision that somebody else is making money off of.”

How thoughtful of him. It would be more believable, however, if his bill actually specified compliance procedures or which state agency has oversight authority. According to Nan Streeter at the Utah Department of Health, “There’s no provision for the department to either enforce or oversee the consent process.” Basically Eliason was in such a rush to impose his morality on others that he forgot to create rules and regulations for Utah abortion providers to follow. Karrie Galloway, Director of Planned Parenthood in Utah, voiced her frustration: “We’re left with a system that right now puts the burden — in fact a possible criminal burden — on the physician providing the procedure with no verifiable process for confirming the informed consent.” This should go well.

Unfortunately, Utah women who want to avoid being treated like ignorant baby-machines won’t find much solace in their neighbor to the south. On Friday, Jan Brewer signed HB 2800, preventing any federal funding for state family-planning services from going to Planned Parenthood. Sound familiar? Texas tried this, and it was ruled unconstitutional (and then reversed by a rogue crazy judge). PP officials say that they, along with any other organizations that provide abortions, would no longer be able to seek reimbursement for non-abortion services provided to patients enrolled in Arizona’s Medicaid program.

According to Representative Justin Olson, the Arizona law is “sufficiently different” enough to prevent a repeat of the Texas fiasco, although it is not specified what those differences are. Olson also says that Planned Parenthood could separate itself into two legal entities, one that provides women’s health services and one that provides abortions, in order to still receive federal funding. Planned Parenthood in Texas did that, and look how well that worked out for them.

Fun fact: 25,000 of the 29,000 women Planned Parenthood serves in Arizona will be affected by this new law.

Small government, indeed.

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