TRENT GARNER: Attacking the Constitution and abortion.


The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Jeannie Roberts reported
 today on some of the plans for attacks on the U.S. Constitution and women’s medical rights this legislative session. I’d like to add a few points relative to the legislation.

As he’s been shouting from his demagogue’s perch, the leading contender for worst Arkansas legislator, Sen. Trent Garner, plans among other impediments on women to make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion for a woman whose fetus might have Down syndrome.

This is cookie-cutter anti-abortion legislation that has already been passed in other states where men like to control women’s medical rights.

Relevant point: A similar law in Ohio was blocked by a federal lawsuit last year.

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U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking the new law from going into effect next week while the case continues. Black wrote in a 22-page order that House Bill 214, which was signed by Gov. John Kasich in December, violates Supreme Court opinions that say a state can’t prohibit a woman from making the decision to end a pregnancy before the fetus is viable.

“Here, Ohio’s new law wrongfully does just that: it violates the right to privacy of every woman in Ohio and is unconstitutional on its face,” Black wrote.

The case is on appeal, but unless Roe v. Wade falls in the worst imaginable way, this law won’t survive, here or in Arkansas.  Courts have also stopped similar laws elsewhere, including Indiana, where the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision. Indiana is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trent Garner and Co. are happy to spend the state’s money to defend their effort to prescribe how women live their lives.

If such a law succeeds, there’s no stopping any other pretext Trent Garner might offer for limiting women’s reproductive rights.

Noted: An anti-abortion Republican legislator has proposed a bill to allow pharmacists to distribute birth control pills without a prescription. He describes it as a discouragement to abortion. True enough. Now if he’d also encourage the legislature to resume Medicaid support for Planned Parenthood, some $50,000 that supported family planning medical services to avoid abortion. He also could write his president, Donald Trump, and try to get him to back off the override of Obamacare rules that mandate free health insurance coverage for birth control pills. This non-prescription contraception legsilation has been introduced in other states by Republican politicians coincidentally facing criticism for rigid anti-abortion stances. Fact is, as Trump and other actions show, there IS resistance to even birth control pills on the right wing. Rep. Aaron Pilkington’s no-Rx pll bill isn’t guaranteed smooth sailing.

For now, the Arkansas ACLU declined to comment about measures proposed for the 2019 legislature. They’ll be heard from. Meanwhile, the Ohio ACLU said this about Down syndrome-related legislation:

A woman should be able to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy in consultation with those she trusts. HB 214 inappropriately inserts politics into private medical deliberations, and would discourage open, honest communication between a woman and her doctor.

It is not the government’s role to decide what can and cannot pass through a woman’s mind before deciding to have an abortion. This type of ban sets a dangerous precedent, and opens the door for politicians to further intrude into women’s personal health decisions.

Garner also wants to legislate required reporting of complications that arise after abortion. This, too, is cookie-cutter legislation that has been challenged elsewhere. Though his bill nominally doesn’t require reporting of the names of patients and doctors, it’s an obvious aim at stigmatizing abortion and raising concerns about a lack of privacy. There is no similar mandatory reporting law covering more medically risky childbirth. Court challenge of a similar law is also pending in court elsewhere. One has been stopped in Indiana, but cleared in Idaho, with appeals ongoing.