UnAmerican Activities–War on Women Edition

Several readers have asked me why I haven’t written anything about Indiana’s horrific House Bill 1337.

To be honest, words fail. Once again, national news outlets are using Indiana as an example of right-wing extremism untempered by even a hint of compassion or common sense.

As Salon noted, if it is somehow upheld, this measure–on Mike Pence’s desk for a signature that is a foregone conclusion–will end virtually all abortions in the state.

The legislation authorizes an entire menu of grotesquely unconstitutional anti-choice TRAP(Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, as well as new forms of authoritarian, misogynistic devilry, each of which could be defined as reproductive Jim Crow laws. Put another way, the new Indiana bill is in keeping with a series of laws that don’t outright ban abortion, but which makes it really, really difficult to have a safe and legal abortion.

The bill is a mashup of grisly, gratuitous measures having no purpose whatsoever other than to punish women who choose to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

The bill itself is an abortion. It requires burial of the fetus–a funeral for what in most cases is little more than a microscopic clump of undifferentiated cells. It mandates fetal ultrasounds. It requires the woman to listen to the fetal heartbeat (despite the fact that, in many if not most cases, the procedure occurs too early to allow detection of a heartbeat).

The fetal heartbeat screening and the ultrasound procedure have to be conducted 18 hours prior to having an abortion. What makes this waiting period particularly vile is that previous TRAP laws have closed most of Indiana’s abortion clinics, leaving just four counties out of 92 with abortion facilities. In other words, if you choose to terminate, you’ll likely have to travel not-insignificant distances in order to find a clinic. From there, you’ll have to bed down at a hotel or elsewhere while your 18 hour waiting period winds down. Yet another expense on top of the abortion itself.

There’s much more, but by far the most offensive provision–in a bill filled with offensive provisions–requires a woman to carry a pregnancy to term if the motive for the abortion is that the fetus is deformed or disabled.

Think about that. The men at Indiana’s General Assembly have decided that they know best whether a woman who finds herself pregnant with a profoundly damaged fetus has the financial and/or emotional resources to spend the rest of her life caring for a disabled child. These legislators know better than the woman and her husband–who may have desperately wanted the pregnancy–the emotional toll of giving birth to a child who cannot live more than a few hours or weeks after birth.

And don’t get me started down the legal rabbit-hole of determining a pregnant woman’s “real” motive for aborting.

As one ob/gyn observes, this bill is just another assault in social conservatives’ dogged and persistent war on women’s autonomy. It is all about control. There is nothing medical about it.

The truth is, these legislative fights over reproductive choice aren’t really fights about the decision to abort. They are fights about who gets to make the decision. 

Giving government the right to decide whether an individual woman should carry a pregnancy to term is no less dangerous than giving government the right to dictate her reading material or religious affiliation. The Bill of Rights rests on the Founders’ belief that—although individuals may certainly make bad or dangerous choices—empowering government to make those choices for us is far more dangerous.

The government that can prohibit abortion today can require it tomorrow. Ask the Chinese.


  1. This bill was written, co-authored and sponsored by reps from Northeast Indiana – the cesspool of our state legislature.

    The tea party and religious fanatics run rampant in this section of the state.

  2. In this crazy state, it has not made much of a splash on TV or in the Star. I guess it is just considered normal. I agree with Alphons. Another Coven signing statement?

  3. It’s shameful–and just one more example of the Republican party treating women as second-class citizens.

  4. Let us look at this situation logically and see if we cannot find the source of the problem regarding this particular bill and the general war on women in this state and this country.

    Legislature at all levels (and many big businesses) do not want to allow women access to birth control, they want to stop all abortions no matter the situation and prenatal care is an “extra” in many health care policies. They have cut or stopped Medicaid and/or food stamps to aid the resulting rising birth rate. Health care at all levels seems to be too costly for the low income level to provide proper prenatal care for pregnant women or pediatric care for the resulting babies and children. Planned Parenthood clinics who provide the bulk of all forms of medical care to women (and men) are being closed in the name of stopping abortion to protect babies. In Indiana these decisions have already caused a rise in HIV cases due to the lack of available STD testing. Their solution to quell the rise in drug addiction is to provide free needle exchange. These are medical issues not religious and not political. They are often life-and-death situations.

    At the same time the legislature on all levels and health care providers, including Medicare, are allowed to provide access to Viagra and erectile dysfunction supplies to men of all ages and for any and all reasons.

    The answer to this problem is quite simple – the men in charge of these decisions do not know how babies are made. They need sex education classes to have the cause of pregnancy to be explained in detail to them. Cause and effect has escaped their behind-closed-door decision making on this issue. They also need to make a concerted effort in all states to force the sperm suppliers to provide child support for these thousands of resulting babies without forcing mothers to return to court repeatedly after being forced to pay to file against those who ignore court ordered child support.

    As with all thoughtless and discriminatory bills throughout this county…it is the children who are ultimately victimized.

  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you give the government the right today to tell you that you cannot have an abortion; you have given the government the right tomorrow to tell you that you WILL have an abortion.

  6. I have nothing but curse words for this nonsense so I’ll stop now because…”MEN!”

  7. I have an ongoing contest with a friend in West Virginia about which of us lives in the more backward state. Right now, she thinks Indiana is winning because we “have one of the worst governors in the history of the state.” She wonders why Hoosier women are not up in arms about this legislation — at least up in arms with cast iron frying pans. I wonder why Karen Pence, who was raised in a good Democratic family, seems to have no influence on her husband’s increasing extremism. Maybe because she knows if she pushes too hard she will be put out to pasture like Sue Ellspermann was?

  8. So…. the legislature ignores that a good number of abortions are performed at the big teaching hospital downtown, you know the one. I just assisted in one last week. It was ectopic, but more than half in the uterus and partially in the tube and had potential had the mother wanted it. She was young and had children so she opted to terminate, as is her right. How will the law accommodate big (R) donor entities that lobby hard for what they want? We got a new packet for nursing education to sign off on, explaining the requirement for burial, the disposition of the cremains and who pays for it at which stage of termination – they’re gearing up for that part. I just find it stunning that there has been not a peep of discussion of withholding state or federal funding from this megalith of health care in Indiana – when they do the same thing that PP does. Funny how it’s all ok if you’re a republican.

  9. The real problem is that these laws don’t stop abortions. They only stop safe abortions. Those of us old enough to remember, know young women who died or were seriously injured by back alley abortion providers or by self induced abortions. “Cider House Rules” should be required reading for legislators.

    It is ironic that the people most adamant about keeping government out of our health care have no problem intervening in the health care decisions of women. New levels of hypocrisy are reached every day, it seems.

  10. Another example of how the ugly right wing is ruining our country piece by piece. They have single-handedly made us into a third world country. Despicable.

  11. There had ought to be 500,000 women gather at the State House to discuss signing this bill with the governor. On the local level, there should be as many women as possible assemble on the front lawns of state senators and representatives of whatever party who voted for this atrocity. It is time for our rulers to understand the other side of democracy. This is one of the most vicious pieces of legislation I have ever seen. Thanks to the politicians who have again sent our pregnant women to the back alley of coat hangers and fish hooks and remember who they are for the next election whatever their party. Barbarians!

  12. I have followed HB1337 since it’s last minute vote. I was shocked. There has not been much written about it. I did read this after my Dad forwarded from inforefront. http://www.indianaforefront.com/abortion-conscience-and-the-legislature/

    The part about the Hudnuts writing to lawmakers and sharing their own personal heart-wrenching decision to abort a pregnancy in the 18th week due to numerous abnormalities particularly struck me. I cannot even imagine a politician sharing such a personal and controversial position today.

    I have written to every name associated on this legislation . Here is the link if you would like to do the same. https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2016/bills/house/1337#digest-heading

    There are 3 women listed as co-author and sponsors. Not surprising, Sen. Holdman a sponsor which falls right in line with his new ad campaign as self-described “Conservative Christian”, “Pro-Life”. Stop tainting Christianity!

    How do these people get elected? We have to engage our electorate and stop this madness. If polled the majority of Hoosiers would not back this legislation.

  13. Our founders were smart enough to know that theocracy doesn’t work. They knew that freedom was essential for a mob of immigrants to fulfill the destiny of becoming a powerful purposeful nation. They knew that even then a strong sense of national purpose and therefore federal government would be required to earn our place among the great nations of the world. While the word democracy was not yet in widespread use they defined it. Citizens of a country strong and free because the governed chose the governors frequently and freely.

    Pence is a miserable victim of the opposite of what the country founded on. He’s a sniveling puppet of entertainers and oligarchs and theocrats who believe that we the people need them to be who we are.

    2016 is the year of the American Revolution 2.0 where we the people give the fickle finger of fate to the would be emperors and send them packing.

    It’s our country. They are where they are at our pleasure as they have been for 250 years.

    It’s not men vs women at all. Or Christians vs Muslims. Or blacks vs whites. Or urban vs rural. Or federal vs local.

    It’s we the people taking back our birthright. It’s our turn to defend our country.

  14. Will the legislature then pass laws, backed with money, that provide help with care, education, and skills training for the children that are born because of this bill? Will they provide help for the parents when they need it?

  15. I run a business in this state. I employ people. I can tell you that this is the point that I begin long-range planning to leave. If this is what our elected representatives produce, then the people of this state, Ho-o-o-o-o-o-osiers (a derogatory term elsewhere, by the way), are too freaking stupid to ever ever be expected to advance. This is a plantation, and though I can enjoy the low wages like any good capitalist, I cannot abide my daughter living here as an adult. I will help my children settle in a decent place and follow them. So thanks for all the fish, folks. I will spend my retirement savings somewhere blue, and my ultra-brilliant children will enhance the community somewhere where there actually is a community, not a cult of the stupid.

  16. My question is, what can we do to stop this? I have signed a petition and passed it around Facebook, but we need to do more. These ignorant lawmakers shouldn’t be able to do whatever the f**k they want. What can we do?

  17. Women, it’s simple: Republican legislators know what’s good for you and they enact laws to force you to comply.
    It’s “freedom” so quityerbitchin
    So what’s next, a veto or a movement to impeach? Any suits been filed?
    What will Pence-of-the-pure-white-coiffure do? They gotta get it signed now while they still have a Republican in the governor’s mansion.

  18. This bill has left me somewhat speechless partially because I am so mad and filled with violent thoughts. I worked at a Children’s Hospital and am aware of syndromes and diseases, etc…that are horrific where quality of life or life is nearly impossible and I’m not referring to the example being given in the news and sound bites, down syndrome.

    Well the state help with the medical costs not to mention pay for the parent to stay home because there isn’t a day care that will or have the staff to care for some of these individuals? .. We know the answer, no! The last I heard there was a 10 year waiting list for waiver services for children who are severely disabled.

    I have witnessed the emotional and financial toll care giving has taken on an entire family and am aware that Indiana rankings in resources to help are some of the worst.

  19. The move to wrest back control of women’s health from women back to men has been ongoing for years. The Catholic Church (yes, I am a Catholic) is the (im)moral leader of the charge. Their constant and hypocritical message about “pro-life” is not that at all. It is pro-birth. Otherwise, you would see erectile dysfunction and anti-death penalty legislation being pushed to the forefront as well.
    When polled, the majority of Catholic women in the United States use some form of birth control at some time in their lives.
    The whole thing is male-driven with the willing support of many hypocritical women who do and say one thing publicly but act in their own self-interest in their private lives.
    To tell any woman that she must carry to term a fetus with vital organs undeveloped, endangering her life as well as causing months of emotional misery and burdening her with the financial consequences for the rest of her life is tantamount to torture.
    The American Taliban has shown itself to be just as intolerant and arrogantly controlling of women as their counterparts in other parts of the world.
    I don’t know how to make it more clear that theocratic politicians (CRUZ) are very dangerous to women and children. We are going backwards and it is really frightening.

  20. Leanne; I remember this very public heartbreaking time in the life of the Hudnuts. The speculation and lack of understanding by people who had no right to any opinion on this matter was front page news. Mayor Hudnut and his wife were forced into the position to publicize what was an intensely personal and dangerous medical situation in response to published gossip. Those of us who were aware of their situation and their grief needed no explanation for their decision, instead we grieved with and for their loss. Politics is an ugly business at times, this was one of the worst locally.

  21. About 30 years ago my wife and I were foster parents for a severely physically and mentally baby girl. She was as helpless the day she died 20 plus years later as the day she was born. My wife and I joined support groups to find out how properly care for her. We were lucky in a sense since she was a foster child, she was also CHINs (Child in Need of Services). We received a monthly stipend and Medicaid.

    We met many people in the support groups who had disabled children of their own. They were in a word terrified of the future. They did not have Medicaid or receive a monthly stipend. Their medical insurance had caps, deductibles, co-pays, etc. These parents were a pink slip away from no medical insurance.

    Our support group and several other groups had meetings and testified at various state governmental functions. I along with many others began to realize what a total zero Evan Bayh was. A smiling Ken doll. I wrote letters to every state Representative and Senator in our government about a lack of funding for the disabled in general. Most did not respond, and few provided “fluffy” non committal responses.

    When the Pacers needed funding for a new stadium the owners went to the front of the line. The political apparatus gave out high fives when all the funding to build a new stadium for the Pacers passed.

    So here we are. I see people demonstrating in front of Planned Parenthood. I wonder how many of them have adopted or been foster parents to children disabled or other wise?? How many of the Legislators will adopt or bring a foster child into their homes???

    Then where is the Democratic Party that supposedly is a champion of Woman’s Right to choose??? Hiding somewhere along with John Gregg in an undisclosed location.

  22. Anti Abortion, Pro Life …
    I wonder what, republican opinion of capital punishment is ?
    (I’m sure they are all in favor of the Death Penalty)
    Perhaps, just a little hypocritical …

    Bye the way, Gregg is not totally hidden away, he surfaced this
    week to ask for money.

  23. There have been times when the appropriate term for middle class Americans was “cannon fodder”. They were useful to fight the wars between the wealthy.

    Now a more appropriate term is “factory fodder”.

    Families have to be held back by babies and miseducation in order to settle for minimum wage from the oligarchs and welfare from the government being bought by those same oligarchs.

    Your taxes now go primarily to support oligarchs and their Republican henchmen.

  24. EFK suggests women armed with frying pans “attack” the State House and Gerald E. Stinson pleads for 500,000 women to rally there at the signing as well as large protests at legislators’ homes. All 3 events should happen. But Indiana Moral Mondays with the help of the Reverend Barber could muster barely 200 to rally for its list of remedies to urgent social disasters, including women’s rights. Lethargy is our enemy in this state. The Abominal ALEC will hold its 43rd Annual Convention in Indianapolis July 27-29, 2016. How many citizens will gather to protest the agenda of this “free-market policy group”?

  25. What is the point in being an old white guy if you can’t screw with women (pun intended)?

  26. Paul Shankland; the fact that you believe this issue is something deserving of your old white guy pun tells us the type of “man” you are and is proof of your personal agreement that screwing with women’s rights is YOUR right.

    I will say nothing personal regarding my view of you as an old white guy simply because Sheila has requested we deal with one another on a civil level.

  27. Your last 2 sentences say it all. There was an Illinois case where the local school board wanted to dismiss a teacher rape victim – a former nun – for being pregnant and single. When she refused to get an abortion, the school board thought they could solve the problem of this insubordinate teacher by sending one of their members to her hospital room the night she gave birth to say that they would let her keep her job if she gave up the child for adoption. She said no again and was fired.

    The Illinois Education Association and the National Education Association took her case to court and won based on Roe v. Wade’s precedent. The question was based on WHO has the right to decide – a local unit of government or an individual citizen. The individual and private decision-making won.

  28. Shankland, what is you wise ass point? The only person who is to decide on an abortion is the woman involved. Not her husband and sure as hell not a bunch of religious bigot bastards and not a bunch of pious political s.o.b. s. Irvin A white haired old man

  29. How can the smaller government and less regulations party justify expanding government and regulations? Guess it’s ok ’cause I’m female. Will they soon decide females are chattel again? How can they seriously believe an educated female would come to work in Imdiana? Where is the outcry from the business community for our state’s most recent legislative discouraging the brightest and the best from wanting to work here. Indiana no place again.

  30. Let’s face it their definition of less government refers to corporations having a free for all…and privatizing schools, prisons, bridges, roads, police, fire departments, etc…but it is big government on women’s health, what religion they insist we practice…they are the morality police and insist that we all act like we are apart of a a Leave It To Beaver episode or live in the movie Pleasantville.

  31. A letter to the editor of the Star this morning (Saturday, 3/19/16) is headed, “Abortion is a form of violence against women”. The letter refers to a previous letter to the editor stating “lack of financial security” as the reason for many abortions. Today’s letter continues, “If that logic were to extend beyond the unborn, we would be considering the termination of thousands of Hoosiers who lack financial security.” It ends with the statement, “All woman, born and yet to be born, need protection from violence.” The author is a man whose concept of protecting women, born and yet to be born, reaches beyond logical comprehension.

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