It’s beginning to look like pro-choice advocates may have a lot of work ahead of them for the 2008 election season, with ballot initiatives popping up across the nation that seek to restrict choice and access to care.
We previously noted that initiatives are in the works in Colorado and other states that would define a fertilized egg as a person with full Constitutional rights. Today, the Kansas City Star is reporting on a proposed ballot initiative in Missouri that would “require doctors to extensively review the medical literature on abortion and investigate each patient’s background and lifestyle. It would require doctors to certify that the abortion was better for the woman than a full-term pregnancy.”
The initiative is reportedly the work of the Elliot Institute, an Illinois group that promotes the unproven notion that women who obtain abortions are more likely to suffer mental distress and invokes references to Nazis and the Devil in their online essays about abortion. The KC Star notes that the group’s website “features articles claiming abortion leads to infertility, bad parenting of future children and mental illness.”
The initiative is intended to create barriers for abortion providers and restrict access for women, creating administrative burdens and allowing women who later regret the procedures to sue their providers. Couched as a means to prevent “coerced” abortions, the measure makes the assumption that providers are not now discussing risks with their patients, and notably seems to require the weighing of risks only of “carrying to term” – it is not clear whether the significant risks of childbirth and beyond would be considered.
It also assumes that doctors are the only ones with the proper expertise to weigh the benefits of abortion for a woman, neglecting the role and agency of the woman herself in the decision-making process.