In an unconstitutional attempt to deter women from exercising their right to safe abortion services, a new Oklahoma law requires that physicians report detailed information regarding women's abortions to the state's Department of Heath, which will in turn post the information on a public Web site.
This serves as yet another reminder of the illogical and morally obtrusive lengths anti-abortionists are willing to take to keep women from having a say in what happens to their bodies.
Not only does such action take a legal and ethical toll, but this legislation is also fiscally draining.
As America attempts to claw itself out of a seemingly endless abyss of recession, ongoing wars and internal disputes, this attempt at intimidating and humiliating women who undergo abortion drags the nation further down.
This Oklahoma law, intended to take effect Nov. 1, will cost $281,285 to implement and $256,285 each subsequent year to maintain — and down the abyss we go.
The required information includes the date of the abortion, county in which the abortion was performed, age of the mother, marital status of the mother, race of the mother, years of education of the mother, state or foreign country in which the mother resides and total number of previous pregnancies the mother has had.
Proponents of the legislation insist that since no names or ""personal information"" will be reported, there is no reason for the mother in question to worry over privacy.
But since Oklahoma consists of many small rural farming communities, such information could be used to identify some of the women who receive abortions. According to Jessica Whitson, a health and sexuality intern for the UA Women's Resource Center, ""that information could be mentally or even physically harmful to a woman living there.""
Publically releasing this information could put the women described in physical danger should they be recognized by the details.
""Unfortunately,"" Whitson says, ""there are people who would physically harm a woman if they found they had aborted a pregnancy.""
Furthermore, the assertion that the information required, as listed above, does not qualify as ""personal information"" is appallingly insensitive and underestimates the emotional strain that accompanies the decision to abort a fetus.
It seems that some fall under the false impression that abortion reflects a numb, malicious mother who ultimately made the decision, but such an assumption grossly undermines the potential contributing factors.
The Center for Reproductive Rights recently filed a lawsuit against the law for violating Oklahoma's Constitution, which requires that every law only address one subject at a time.
""As taxpayers in this state, we expect our representatives to follow the state constitution, not pick and choose what measures suit them, then pass unconstitutional legislation that shortchanges their constituents by a quarter-of-a-million dollars,"" said one of the plaintiffs in the current lawsuit and sormer Oklahoma State Representative Wanda Stapleton.
This legislation infringes Oklahoma's Constitution by consisting of four distinct subjects. Though the heart of the injustice hardly pertains to the number of subjects covered, this tactic has worked in the past.
Just last month, an Oklahoma state district court struck down a 2008 law that required, among other abortion restrictions, that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound and listen to a doctor's in-depth description of the fetus or embryo prior to receiving the procedure. The judge ruled that the attempted law covered multiple subjects, and the center hopes that history will do what it does best — repeat itself — in the current case.
Megan Carpentier asserted her opinion regarding this law in her appearance on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show.
Carpentier alleged that there is simply no compelling public health reason the legislature wants to collect such data from those who ""choose to have the most common medical procedure in the United States.""
According to Carpentier, anti-abortion forces, like Operation Rescue, are notorious for publicizing information about women seeking abortions or employees of clinics who provide services and ""using that information to harass and intimidate"" those individuals using or providing abortions.
These are merely bullying tactics, or ""thuggery"" as Maddow dubbed it.
Anti-abortionists are attempting to create hurtles and obstacles between women and abortion in hopes of deterring them altogether.
But government interference, religious beliefs and personal views don't belong near women's bodies. What a woman chooses to do with her own body is her decision, certainly not the government's.
With each of the 34 questions asked of the patient seeking an abortion, the government and individual ideals are barging into places they aren't welcome, interjecting in worlds they couldn't possibly understand and judging the choices of vulnerable strangers.
If Oklahoma succumbs to this infiltration, others will follow. All anti-abortionists need is a single success to set the example.
It's vital as a country to fight to protect our rights, our freedom to choose and our bodies. Arizona could be next.
— Rachel Leavitt is a sophomore majoring in creative writing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org