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Monday, February 04, 2013

You know about Roe, but do you know about Doe?

From Trust Women Newsletter,
by Christina Carberry, Trust Women Intern

This month marks the forty-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic case known for legalizing abortion in the United States. But a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was decided simultaneously with Roe and arguably holds just as important a role in the precedent of abortion legislation. Doe overturned the law regarding abortion in Georgia, which only allowed termination in the case of incest, rape, fetal deformity, or when the life of the mother was at risk. The law also required that a woman obtain the approval of three physicians and a committee of hospital staff before being allowed to have an abortion.
While Roe primarily legalized abortion on the basis of a right to privacy, Doe broadly defined conceptions of women’s health to allow a woman to access an abortion for virtually any reason she and her doctor put forth. Included in this definition is not just physical, but also mental health, which takes age, marital status, and general psychological well being into account. Thus, pretty much any reason a woman has for wanting an abortion is reason enough, under the eyes of the law.
Doe sets the precedent that a woman’s life circumstances and reasons for wanting an abortion are irrelevant; she has a right to receive one regardless of these factors.
States may restrict abortion based on other terms, such as fetal viability. This precedent is significant today as many states attempt to restrict abortion by passing laws that create various hurdles and difficulties for women seeking abortion services.  
Over half of all states have implemented at least one law that restricts access to abortions. The most common are mandatory notification and consent laws, which require teens to inform or even receive permission from their parents in order to obtain an abortion. Other laws include mandatory counseling and mandatory waiting periods, which place further barriers for women seeking these services. Over 80 laws restricting abortion were passed in 2012, and many more are said to be at the top of the agenda in certain states in 2013. Though these laws are gaining ground, legislation that narrows abortion access to cases of rape, incest, and risk of the life of the mother is unlawful under the precedent of Doe. As conservative lawmakers search for further ways to make abortions more difficult for women to access, limiting it to specific circumstances will not be one of them, thanks to Doe v. Bolton.

From the director, Julie A. Burkhart;

It has been an exciting month for us at Trust Women and the beginning of what is sure to be an exciting year!  As progress continues on the clinic, we’ve gotten a lot of attention from across the country from right here at home at the Wichita Eagle to being featured on the Rachel Maddow show.

Unfortunately, not all the attention we’ve gotten has been friendly.  Please sign our petition to let Kansas lawmakers know that you support restoring comprehensive reproductive health services in Wichita and that you condemn intimidation and harassment from anti-choice extremists against health care providers.

Regardless of the obstacles ahead of us, we continue to push on.  With each passing day, we come closer to reaching our ultimate goal: opening South Winds Women’s Center and bringing back access to southern Kansas.  We can’t get those doors open, however, without your generous, continual support.  We offer six different ways to give: by phone at (316) 425-3215, fax at (316) 425-3451, mail, e-mail, our foundation site, and our Crowdrise campaign.  Your support will go a long way towards helping women regain access to their reproductive rights in 2013.

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