This campaign season has seen a flurry of women’s health issues come to the forefront of political debates, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming to keep track of which women’s health issues are being discussed, where proceedings stand, and what the major implications of decisions are. Here’s a quick guide to what matters most when it comes to bureaucrats governing your lady parts.
Michigan passes abortion “superbill” in the House. In early June, the Michigan State House of Representatives passed a bill (HB 5711, 5712, and 5713) which puts severe restrictions on abortion clinics and services. One of the most notable provisions of the bill mandates abortion clinics performing six or more abortions per month to become licensed surgical centers, even if they only perform non-surgical abortions. The bill awaits a Senate vote (likely in September) and discussion on further provisions, such as criminalizing abortions, even in the case of rape or incest, after 20 weeks. Notably, two female Michigan legislators were banned from speaking on the House floor after Rep. Lisa Brown used the term “vagina” while discussing the bill.
Virginia bill requiring ultrasound prior to abortion went into effect July 1. Women in Virginia seeking abortion services must now undergo an ultrasound before the abortion can be performed, regardless of whether a physician deems it medically necessary. The original version of the bill received major press by requiring an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, but Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell called for revision to the transvaginal requirement after legal advisors counseled him that such a requirement could violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Arizona’s strict abortion bill temporarily halted by a federal appeals court. In April 2012, Arizona passed an abortion bill which prohibits abortion beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in the case of medical emergencies (with no exception for rape or incest). The bill’s implementation, which was initially set for early August, was temporarily halted by a federal appeals court on August 1 until appeals on the bill can be heard this fall.