Column: Anti-choice Legislation Cannot Be Ignored

This story was written by Clint Waltman, Daily Nebraskan


For some people, it seems as though issues dealing with life, race and gender only matter when talking about growing masses of cells in wombs.On Sept. 30, Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, along with fellow Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, introduced the Susan B. Anthony Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.Masked by the Capitol Hill drama surrounding the economic bailout, the bill aims to "prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race, and for other purposes." The implications of such a measure are that federal law would recognize abortion as immoral, as well as recognize developing cells (the "unborn") as live children with gender and race.A purely symbolic gesture, Fortenberry's bill is yet another attempt to change the rhetoric of the issue of abortion until the opposition can achieve an outright ban.The act is red meat to his constituents before Election Day -- a measure which will not do much of anything if passed except change the dialogue surrounding abortion.The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act is yet another attempt in a long line of Bush-era steps to prohibit a woman's right to choose, and Americans need to be vigilant of the continuing changes in political landscape which will be catastrophic for families.Not surprisingly, Fortenberry's bill comes hot off the heels of a new Department of Health and Human Services order by the Bush administration which would undermine women's health care.Another symbolic (although quite harmful) gesture, the rule would "require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control," according to The New York Times.In layperson terms, if a person applied to work at, say, a family clinic and was the most qualified for the job but also opposed contraceptives, he or she would have to be hired or the organization could be denied federal funding.

It's anti-abortion affirmative action, and now we have cell mass nondiscrimination.The precursor to all of this was the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, upheld by a Bush-stacked court in 2007.In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declared the decision an "alarming" ruling that "tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases."Ginsburg went on to say that the ban "blurs the line between previability and postviability abortions. And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health."By their tacit consent, the American people continue to bless prohibitions which further infringe upon women's health as Ginsburg mentions.The actions by both the Bush administration and Fortenberry beg the question: At what point are people, particularly Nebraskans, going to fight back?When Nebraska ranks lowest in the nation in contraceptive care?Oh, wait. According to Guttmacher Institute public health research, it already does: 51st, behind Washington, D.C. And they call this state "The Good Life."It is unnecessary to scare the voting public into demanding more contraceptive care before things get bad. They already are.But there is still potential for things to get worse: the insanity of the proposed abortion ban in South Dakota which could bleed to the state below.The constitutional amendment will appear on the South Dakota ballot in November and prohibit all abortions in the state "except for those performed because of rape, incest or to protect the woman's health."If only it were that simple.Jan Nicolay, spokesperson for the Campaign for Healthy Families, told the Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, that "the physician would almost have to get a legal opinion before taking any steps to help the victim of a rape or incest situation.
br>"That's how difficult they are to understand. They aren't intended to be real exceptions," Nicolay said.According to the bill, before a doctor could "perform an abortion in instances of rape or incest, the woman's consent would be required for DNA samples from her and the fetus for future forensic analysis."The doctor would be required to "collect, secure, clearly label and refrigerate the samples and within 24 hours arrange with law enforcement to transfer custody of the samples."Again -- to the layperson -- this seems like a gross violation of a victim's rights.Then again, the abortion ban is overturning what was deemed part of the right to privacy in the 14th amendment by the Supreme Court, so there's no reason for South Dakota to stop there.Furthermore, Rapid Citydoctor Marvin Buehner told the Argus Leader the ban "would have a terrible impact on a doctor's ability to use proper medical judgment, with the risk of 10 years in prison and $20,000 fine.""The effect would be to ban abortion completely," he said.Americans must demand more from their leaders -- for better, available health care for women -- or they risk Fortenberry's agenda, an expansion of the lunacy of South Dakota to everywhere else.These moves to prohibit a very important freedom must be quelled -- the South Dakota amendment struck down, the Fortenberry bill denied and the Bush-era meandering reversed.We do not know what the next attempt will be to undermine a woman's right to choose or if an outright ban will be attempted in "the Heartland."On the tail of Fortenberry's bill, perhaps we can expect nondiscrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender cell masses as well.
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