Nebraska: Playing Politics with Women’s Lives.

14 Apr

Being from New Jersey, I occasionally mock the rest of the country – I’ve gleefully referred to California as the land of fruits and nuts, smirked over “Pennsyltucky,” giggled over a bumper sticker that said “West Virginia: It’s all relative,” and I have an entire stand up routine worth of remarks about Florida (much of my family has migrated there in recent years, giving me a fount of fresh material on a regular basis).  Kidding aside, though, I have long consider the U.S. to be just that – a unified body, and a highly advanced one at that.

Yesterday that image was shaken when the state of Nebraska’s governor signed two laws – one that barred abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the other, even more outrageously, requiring women to be screened for mental health (and other problems), before having an abortion.  Let’s take a look at these individually:

– Why 20 weeks?  No fetus is possibly viable, but someone in Nebraska claims that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks.  How do you know that?  Can you ask the fetus?  No, of course not – it’s a fetus (painfully obvious I know, but they seem to be missing that in Nebraska).  Apparently they try to ‘evade stimuli’ and that has been extrapolated to mean ‘can feel pain.’  It’s sure to be challenged, and I fervently hope will be seen for the ridiculous invasion and misuse of scientific assumptions that it is, but not before it costs the taxpayers (and I’m sure that will include those of us in N.J. when it inevitably gets thrown into federal courts of some kind) millions of dollars.  Millions of dollars that could be used to educate those children who are alive and in schools that don’t have enough desks, or high school students who can’t scrape together enough money to afford college.

– Mental health screenings:This one amazes me, because I can easily envision dozens of scenarios where the mental health of a woman would be threatened by being forced into being an incubator for an unwanted pregnancy.  Moreover, if a woman does have a mental illness, ranging from ADD to bipolar depression to schizophrenia and everything in between, the medications that are used to mitigate the effects of those illnesses, to allow their sufferers to lead normal, productive lives, are damaging to fetuses.  The medications are linked to birth defects.  So, if a woman is pregnant and wants to have an abortion, and is found to have a mental illness, then what?

Is she refused an abortion, and forced to forgo medication until she gives birth (is she put in some kind of cattle pen also)?

Is she forcefully medicated, refused an abortion, and stuck with a baby with birth defects ranging from mental illness to non-functioning organs?

Does anyone else hear echoes of eugenics and Hitler’s experiments?

9 Responses to “Nebraska: Playing Politics with Women’s Lives.”

  1. Nicole April 14, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Thank you Shayna for getting this up here so quickly! I think it is extremely important to mention Dr. Carhart and that this is a clear attack at him personally, as one of very few, very public abortion providers with the skills to provide abortions up to and beyond 20 weeks.

    Also, we should note it was a vote of 44-5. I think a landslide like that has a very different meaning for us as advocates, and we need to keep that in mind.

  2. Shayna April 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Nicole – you’re absolutely right – thank you for pointing out the disturbing voting, as well as the pettiness involved here.

    Dr. Carhart is a resource for women, and this persecution of him is disgusting, and scary for the millions of women who rely on him and other providers for their ability and willingness to provide abortions. Whether I have an abortion or not, I need to know that he and the few out there like him, can continue to practice medicine – which most assuredly contributes to my mental health.

  3. EAMD April 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    What galls the hell out of me, and what nobody seems to be mentioning, is that whether the fetus can feel pain or not is pretty irrelevant. Can it? Yeah, probably. But that is a completely worthless demarcation of personhood. Cows feel pain. Pigs feel pain. Lobsters feel pain. Are they human, too? Is someone who has hemispatial neglect (who doesn’t register one half of their body) only half human? And of course, there are people who do not feel any pain as a result of various brain or sensory conditions.

    The whole issue is a smokescreen and a joke.

  4. KushielsMoon April 15, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    EAMD- I agree that this whole issue is just a manipulation to hurt women. However, I want to point out that studies show fetuses cannot feel pain until the third trimester.

    The conclusion very clearly states that “Cutaneous withdrawal reflexes and hormonal stress responses present earlier in development are not explicit or sufficient evidence of pain perception because they are not specific to noxious stimuli and are not cortically mediated.”

    How the congressmen and women(?) in Nebraska decided they could ignore medical evidence in favor of antichoice lies is beyond me. Why is it that elected officials think they can make medical decisions?

  5. Tommy R April 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    “Does anyone else hear echoes of eugenics and Hitler’s experiments?”

    Historically, I thought Hitler’s form of eugenics was all about killing people with mental illnesses because they were a drag or whatever. You seem to be saying that aborting a mental illness is the opposite of his methods. It seems to be the same to me.

  6. Jean April 15, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    I’m not sure you understand what eugenics means.

    What you are suggesting is eugenics. Having an abortion because you don’t like the genes of the fetus is a form of eugenics.

  7. Shayna April 16, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    My reference to eugenics was because eugenics was one of the Nazi methods of controlling another’s choices over his/her body – In my opinion forced sterilization, which denies someone the ability to have children, is on the same level of denying someone an abortion. That’s why it’s called Pro-Choice.

    The Nazis especially focused their experiments in eugenics on the mentally ill – the same general population which Nebraska’s new law is targeting. When you start playing with people’s fundamental rights, and declaring those who disagree with your opinion to be mentally ill, it is a very slippery slope. While the Nazi regime is a scary blot on world history, it’s important to remember that it didn’t start out as a big, black mark – it started with someone talking otherwise reasonable people into limiting others’ rights.

  8. Tommy R April 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm #


    I am not sure where you got your ideas from, but they are not historically accurate when it comes to Nazi style eugenics. Eugenics in any context has always meant the following: Stopping the reproduction of an undesirable people…either by birth control, sterilization, abortion or direct killing. Whether those being eliminated were willing participations or coerced or forced is irrelevant.


  1. Nebraska: Playing Politics with Women's Lives. | Abortion Gang · World News at - April 14, 2010

    […] haji mike wrote an interesting post today. Here’s a quick excerptNebraska: Playing Politics with Women’s Lives. 14 Apr. Being from New Jersey, I occasionally mock the rest of the country – I’ve gleefully referred to California as the land of fruits and nuts, smirked over “Pennsyltucky,” giggled over … […]

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