There’s actually a lot of competition for “worst state” for women’s health

Several commenters have noted that calling Arizona the “worst state in the union” is kind of unfair, since a state is more than simply the sum of its legislation. As a resident of Alabama, I have to sympathize. States like Arizona (and Alabama) are, in fact, full of progressive-minded people who lack the resources to leave or just choose to stay and try to make things better. Those people deserve our support, as do the good people of



where the state House has just passed HB 954, which would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, even if she’s carrying a fetus that will ultimately be stillborn. And why not? Pigs do it all the time, says Rep. Terry England.

No, seriously, “why not” is because pigs do it all the time.

Life gives us many experiences. It gives us experience–or, I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive. Delivering pigs, dead and alive. And I want to tell you, Representative McCall, Representative Roberts, all of us–Representative Anderson–that have done that–Representative Black–that have done that, it breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.

Because women are, of course, livestock, and when we see that 20-week ultrasound that shows that the fetus we’ve been doting over has anomalies incompatible with life and thus our much-wanted pregnancy will result in heartbreak, we let out a plaintive moo and then immediately begin wondering whether we’ll get alfalfa or timothy hay for dinner. There are no physical health consequences to carrying it around in one’s own personal body for as long as it chooses to hang out there. Farmer England has never seen a pig 
who needed to be able to grieve or find a sense of closure or try to regain a sense of control in a body that has betrayed her. So I’m sure the rest of you will be just fine. Here, have a bucket of corn cobs.

But that’s not all. Farmer England also cares about the chickens.

You know, a few years ago, I had a young man come to me at our store. And, you know, it was when we were debating, talk about dog and hog hunting, I believe, and at that point, there was some language inserted in there that dealt with chicken fighting. And the young man called me to the side, and he said, “I want to tell you one thing.” And y’all, this is salt-of-the-earth people I’m talking about. Someone I would have never, in a hundred years, expected to tell me what he told me that day. He said, “Mr. Terry, I want to tell you something. You tell those folks down there when they quit killing babies, they can have every chicken I’ve got.”

Every chicken he has, ladies. Come on. Do it for the chickens.


There’s also TENNESSEE,

where women are free to get abortions as long as they don’t mind all their neighbors knowing about it. The state legislature’s “Life Defense Act of 2012,” less-ironically named HB 3808

would require the Department of Health to release more information on abortions, including the name of the doctor who performed the procedure and demographics about the women who received them.

“The Department of Health already collects all of the data, but they don’t publish it,” [bill sponsor Rep. Matthew Hill] said. “All we’re asking is that the data they already collect be made public.”

The data currently collected by the Department of Health follows age, race, education, and number of children and is aggregated by region. The bill requires that the data be aggregated by county, and of course no one in a small community would be able to identify an individual based on her age, race, number of children, education level, and the fact that she’s missed Bible study two weeks in a row and Shirleen saw her coming out of Dr. Finley’s office last Tuesday but she didn’t look sick.

The bill also would provide a nice, comprehensive listing of all doctors in the state who perform abortions regularly as well as physicians who end up performing abortions during the course of providing care, which is great, because doctors who perform abortions are never targeted. Or murdered.

Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life (which suggested the bill in the first place), said, “I think it’s fair for folks on both sides to see how prevalent abortion is in our counties and our communities.” Um, nuh-uh, actually.


And let’s not forget PENNSYLVANIA,

where one of the most draconian of the proposed anti-choice lawsHB 1077–would require (among other things) that a woman:

– undergo a transvaginal ultrasound;
– view the results of the ultrasound–with the ultrasound screen turned toward her face;
– receive two personalized copies of the results (one for her doctor, one suitable for framing);
– deliver one of those copies to the doctor who will be performing the abortion; and
– wait at least 24 hours between ultrasound and abortion; although
– if she waits more than 14 days between ultrasound and abortion, she has to watch a state-approved video on fetal gestation.

Well, I mean, I suppose she doesn’t have to see the results. After all, as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said,

I don’t know how you make anybody watch, OK? Because you just have to close your eyes.

The Pennsylvania bill follows in the steps of a TEXAS “Woman’s Right to Know” ultrasound bill passed last spring with similar restrictions. (The Texas Observer has an account of one woman’s ordeal in trying to get an abortion under that law, but it’s not something to read unless you want your heart broken.) Now Texas has moved on to jettisoning all Medicaid funding for family planning. The problem there is that through the state’s new law excluding Planned Parenthood from Texas’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program, they’ve violated a Medicare rule about discriminating against qualified family planning providers and preventing women from being able to see the provider of their choice. That’s a loss of nearly 90 percent of the program’s $40 million. [h/t Doc Alpert in comments.]


There’s also COLORADO,

where the state House passed HB 1130, attaching criminal assault and homicide laws to the injury or death of any “unborn member of the species homo sapien.”

Moves are being made for similar initiatives in NEVADA, KANSAS (now with bonus fatherhood rights!), OKLAHOMA, and of course VIRGINIA, not to mention ultrasound bills in Virginia and 11 other states.


There is one more personhood amendment up for consideration–this one courtesy of SHAKESVILLE.

A person identifying as a woman and/or having a uterus shall retain all of the full, basic, and fundamental rights of a US citizen as guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Congress and the States shall make no law that infringes upon a person’s life, including but not limited to access to life-saving or life-improving healthcare, and/or medicines and procedures deemed necessary or beneficial by a medical professional and/or by the person having the uterus, procurement of which shall not by denied in and of itself by the presence of a uterus. Congress and the States shall make no law that infringes upon a person’s liberty, including but not limited to autonomy over hir own body and the ability to make decisions regarding hir own healthcare. Congress and the States shall make no law that interferes with a person’s pursuit of happiness, including but not limited to access to a full spectrum of reproductive options, freedom from forcible reproduction, and the ability to make decisions regarding family planning and family resources.

If that sounds more up your alley, you can sign your name to it at

51 comments for “There’s actually a lot of competition for “worst state” for women’s health

  1. March 20, 2012 at 6:05 am

    jesus fucking christ. i dont even….no.words.

  2. Kierra
    March 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

    And y’all, this is salt-of-the-earth people I’m talking about.

    “Salt-of-the-earth people” apparently means people that watch chickens rip each other apart for their amusement. Which they should be totally free to do, because somewhere a woman has the right to have control of her body. Sickening.

  3. may
    March 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

    And here is just a taste of the war on women in NH:

  4. EG
    March 20, 2012 at 7:48 am

    any “unborn member of the species homo sapien.”

    I am comforted to find the same quotation in the original article, because there is no such species. Human beings are, of course, the species “homo sapiens.” Which is appropriate, because “sapiens” means “wise” in Latin, and clearly the writers of such bills are either stupid or evil. Or both.

  5. may
    March 20, 2012 at 7:50 am

    maybe the link will work this time…

  6. samanthab
    March 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Arizona’s education system ranks close to the bottom, as does much of the South’s. I think if we are going to be committed progressives we ought to believe in the enlightening power of education. When we write people off because of their insufficient enlightenment, I think we are showing insufficient commitment to our own ideas. I also think that a system with inadequate safety nets is self-fulfilling; it breeds deep seated fear, which breeds anger at whatever will serve as a useful target- imaginary welfare queens, women as a whole, etc. Again, we have to believe in our own ideas and believe that a more just system is sweepingly transformative.

  7. ka
    March 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I’d really love to see a state by state listing of proposed anti-women laws within the last 2 years and, of course, one for those laws which women have to deal with right now. I just can’t keep up anymore!

  8. Angie unduplicated
    March 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

    In re GA, the Dalton Citizen-News, which can’t even spell vagina, was kind enough to provide a clue to the problem today.
    A public interest group issued its reports on legislative corruption in America. Georgia earned the big bad F, and most of the legislatures poking into our uteri are at D level.
    You may call the leges’ technique distraction, redirect, or projection, but they are trying to blame mama’s cooter for their own full-grown rottenness. Christianity urges us to forgive everybody except Eve, and these fundament-mentalists are playing the same old tired game.

  9. Mike
    March 20, 2012 at 8:41 am

    In defense of my home state of PA (which gets harder every day): HB 1077 was put on hold indefinitely. (I was sent an email about this by the local Planned Parenthood affiliate a few weeks ago; this was the first published source I found, but it interviews one of the bill’s sponsors and is vaguely pro-bill, so beware.) Alas, this is the same state legislature that declared 2012 The Year of The Bible. But if I had to choose between a pointless-but-deranged declaration and the horror that is HB1077, I’d take the declaration any day.

  10. EG
    March 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Alas, this is the same state legislature that declared 2012 The Year of The Bible.

    Excellent! I hope they can get the whole thing out of their systems in 2012, and then we can carry on without it.

  11. Anonymous
    March 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I live in Pennsylvania. And I turned 18 this year, so I wasn’t able to choose my representatives.

    Rest assured, however, that I’ll be calling them this week just to let them know: a vote for this bill is a loss of my vote, forever.

    I don’t want a representative who doesn’t respect my fundamental human rights.

  12. Doc Alpert
    March 20, 2012 at 10:02 am
  13. tinfoil hattie
    March 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    seriously: how could you forget Virginia?

  14. DAS
    March 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Convenient that they make 2012 the year of the Bible and not 2015: the Bible is all fine and good when it comes to Jesus preaching against abortion and homosexuality (oh, he didn’t? um … well, never mind), but we can’t have the Bible interfering with commerce, can we?

  15. March 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    i just got an e-mail from james carville saying that if republicans are allowed 2 take over us ladies might be lucky to even keep the right to vote–i hate to say he’s right but i think he is

  16. im
    March 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Loosing the right to vote is very unlikely would require constitutional amendments and draw the wrath of Europe, but harrassing women voters might happen. It’s happened for veterans, black people, and others who vote Democrat.

    THe thing that really gets me is that there is NOBODY who actually seems to care about fetuses. All of these laws seem to exist primarily for sexism. The lawmakers do not believe as they speak. If I believed that fetuses were human beings I would do much to stop abortion, but I would do nothing of THIS sort.

    • March 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

      @ im—well said, i agree w/ U, i dont think they’ll take the vote away, but they certainly can render it meaningless—i absolutely dont think they care about fetuses, and the laws DO exist for sexism—i think the republican party’s real goal is a one-party system with themselves as the one party—and all that lifestyle shit is the only thing they care about—meanwhile the country goes 2 hell in a grocery cart because medical costs R out of control, and american jobs R a memory—like i said, rendering the vote meaningless

  17. Doc Alpert
    March 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    im: If a fetus is a human being, then there are cases where you have to choose between its rights and the woman’s rights. Those cases are a zero-sum game; some “person” has their rights violated no matter what. And if you want to stop abortion, then the person whose rights are violated is the woman: you are forcing the woman to host a person in her body. And systematically violating rights based on sex is pretty much the most clear-cut case of sexism you can have.

    It is not possible to have anti-abortion laws that are not sexist. This is pretty simple logic.

  18. ka
    March 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I see your point. Any law which limits access to or outright outlaws abortion is going to be sexist.

    But, one could always pass laws which expand access to contraceptives, sexual education and aid for families with children. I’d bet abortion rates would go down.

  19. Computer Soldier Porygon
    March 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    What about Texas?

    Almost goes without saying.

  20. Kierra
    March 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Looks like Idaho wants in on the action, too. They’re working on their own mandatory ultrasound law, minus the exception for rape, incest, and life of the mother, of course.

    The sponsor of an Idaho mandatory ultrasound bill, state Sen. Chuck Winder, made some highly controversial comments Monday during his closing arguments, suggesting women might falsely use rape as an excuse to obtain an abortion.

    Just before the Idaho’s Senate passed the bill, which requires woman to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion, opponents of the bill pointed out that it makes no exception for rape victims, incest victims or women in medical emergencies.

    Winder, a Republican from Boise, responded to those concerns by raising the question of whether women understand when they have been raped.

    “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this,” Winder said on the Senate floor. “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

  21. Annie D
    March 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    But, one could always pass laws which expand access to contraceptives, sexual education and aid for families with children. I’d bet abortion rates would go down.

    Yes! More of this thinking please! Unfortunately that may involve the state paying for women’s dirty whore pills. Just FYI any right wingers who may be reading, that’s been happening here in Australia for a while now and the sky has not fallen nor the cost of Medicare skyrocketed.

  22. Angie unduplicated
    March 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Ka-Since Obamacare does allow one well-woman visit annually, it stands to reason that this visit can and should include a discussion of contraceptive options. At this point, over-the-counter sales of contraceptive pills, with minimal health risks, becomes a far more attractive option. This will take it out of the hands of insurors and stale pale white elephant legislators and put the decision-making ability back with a woman and her doctor(a).

  23. Angie unduplicated
    March 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    And-that petition should include former owners of uterine equipment. Hysterectomy should not deprive a woman of her Constitutional liberties.

  24. March 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    seriously: how could you forget Virginia?

    It’s up there. I didn’t go into a lot of detail since we’ve already discussed it so much here. (Not that it’s unworthy of discussion.)

    What about Texas?

    I certainly didn’t mean to mess with Texas. I’ll add that.

  25. March 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

    Yeah, sure. Of course that’s a part of rape counseling: the accusation that you’re lying about it. It’s safe to assume that that’s what goes on.

  26. Natalie
    March 20, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    What about North Dakota? And South Dakota? They tried to make a state law that all women seeking abortions had to go to a CPC. And there is only one abortion clinic in South Dakota, and one in North Dakota. And North Dakota doesn’t allow medication abortion regardless of if that is better for the woman or not.

    Sigh. At least we have Olive Garden.

  27. THolbrook
    March 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I follow the news pretty regularly and have heard of most of these things, but somehow when all of them are put together in a single list, it makes it 100x scarier. This is a coordinated, wide-spread attack on women’s rights. I’m freaking. the fuck. out.

    But to clarify the situation in CO, pro-choice Dems control the Senate and the governor is a Democrat as well (for whatever reason, the Republican state election tidal wave of 2010 jumped over CO)- it’s pretty unlikely that HB 1130 will become law.

  28. EG
    March 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I like how the bill specifies that the woman could be prosecuted for lying about paternal identity, but there’s no mention made of whether or not the man who is colluding with her would be prosecuted. And by “like,” I mean “notice as the cherry on top of the women-as-chattel sundae.”

  29. Marksman2010
    March 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Why not just list the states that aren’t the worst in women’s health? Because right now the map is lighting up like a Christmas tree.

  30. thinksnake
    March 21, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Just FYI any right wingers who may be reading, that’s been happening here in Australia for a while now and the sky has not fallen nor the cost of Medicare skyrocketed.

    Though abortion is still officially illegal (albeit rarely enforced) in most states and territories down here.

  31. Echo Zen
    March 21, 2012 at 3:01 am

    I love how the GOP is becoming evermore frank about the truth behind their lies. According to state representative Mark Waller of the personhood legislation in Colorado: “The goal of this bill is not to protect women. The goal of this bill is to protect unborn children.” Gee, thanks, Captain Obvious!

  32. Jen in Ohio
    March 21, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Checking in from Ohio, the heartbeat bill of it all:

    1. We’ve got a personhood amendment on track for the ballot this November. It needs 385,245 signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties to make the ballot and they recently got the green light to go start collecting those signatures.

    (A) The words “person” in Article 1, Section 16, and “men” in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.

    (B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human “eggs” or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.

    2. House Bill 79 excluded abortion coverage from the State Exchange created in the federal health care reform law. Governor Kasich signed that into law last December.

    3. Last July Kasich signed House Bill 153 which bans abortion coverage in insurance plans of local employees, county employees, school district employees and regional transit authority employees. 153 was a big win for those assholes — it also prohibits abortions at taxpayer funded public hospitals.

    4. Abstinence education grant money? Yeah, Kasich got us some more of that last summer too, so if you find yourself wandering around Ohio’s ladies rooms and you happen to see some teenage girls looking really nervous and jumping up and down after douching with Red Bull, you’ll know why.

    5. House & Senate Bill 78 prohibits abortion after 20 weeks, and Kasich signed that into law last July as well.

    6. Along with potentially having to fight the odious personhood amendment mentioned in #1, this year we will also be fighting House Bill 298 which yanks funding from Planned Parenthood and any other medical facility that performs abortions.

    7. The last thing I can stomach writing about this morning is that the assholes think those Crisis Pregnancy Centers are just so fucking awesome that in January the Ohio House dicked around wasting the taxpayers’ money on a bill just to Honor them.

  33. Kierra
    March 21, 2012 at 8:05 am

    it also prohibits abortions at taxpayer funded public hospitals.

    Wait, so you can’t get an abortion at Catholic hospitals or public hospitals? Does that leave any hospitals in Ohio where you can get an abortion? Do they make any exceptions for medical emergencies?

    Thank God I moved out of that state before trying to get pregnant.

  34. Natalie
    March 21, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Can I submit MN for one of the better states? There are quite a few abortion clinics and a prochoice governor. Also al franken who is very pro choice. Also I can’t think of any anti choice bills going tbhru the senate recently

  35. Kristen J.
    March 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

    This is why I wanted to do that series on the Evangelical Movement. I don’t know, but I feel like we’re losing ground. They are so well organized and so well funded. How are we going to stop this shit?

  36. March 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Moving to Canada probably won’t be an option. (Okay, it’s not that bad up here yet, but our new majority Conservative government is less than a year old with at least four more years to go, and they’ve already pushed through some seriously retrogressive legislation, no doubt gearing up for more.

  37. Jen in Ohio
    March 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Does that leave any hospitals in Ohio where you can get an abortion? Do they make any exceptions for medical emergencies?

    I don’t know about hospitals. There is one facility in the city in which I live, an independent women’s clinic that offers surgical abortions but not RU-486. There’s some kind of strict regulation law on the drug that Planned Parenthood has been trying to fight but so far unsuccessfully. I assume that the larger cities, such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc., have Planned Parenthood facilities that perform abortions as well as these kinds of independent clinic facilities but I don’t know what services are available there.

    I think there are zero exceptions regarding the viability law, but I’m not sure, and since there’s been sort-of a flurry of recent legislative changes, it’s all just kinda blurry and awful right now.

  38. Esti
    March 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Jadey, while I share your dislike of Woodworth and his stupid motion, I don’t think it’s remotely comparable (or even the beginning of a slippery slope to) what’s going on in the U.S. We have one backbench MP (who likely has some support from other Conservative MPs, but as far as I know no one else has stepped forward to publicly join him) who is on the far-right of his party trying to open a debate about when life begins. Everytime he’s asked about it, the Prime Minister emphasizes that the abortion debate is closed; whatever his personal beliefs, he clearly understands that the issue would be political poison for his party. Media reports sometimes refer to a “secretive” Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus — which may well exist, but can you imagine Republicans feeling the need to hide their pro-life political activities like that? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think a single anti-choice piece of legislation has been passed since Morgentaler (definitely not at the federal level, but also not in the provinces as far as I’m aware). And I have 100% faith that even if restrictions on abortion were somehow pushed through Parliament, the Supreme Court would be 9-0 in striking it down.

    The Conservatives are really dangerous on things like gun control, criminal justice, and government accountability, issues about which most citizens either agree with them or are apathetic. But the party seems to be completely aware that Canadians aren’t interested in rolling back access to abortion and that we care enough to fight them on that issue.

  39. tinfoil hattie
    March 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Sorry, caperton. Seeing so much red lately made me miss the Va. reference.

  40. Echo Zen
    March 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks, Esti, for the one bright spot in this thread. At least the sanctuary to the North is safe, for now.

    Then again, if lawmakers ever succeed in ramming personhood bills down the throats of taxpayers who pay their salaries, it would be pure gold to see the Supreme Court laughing out of the courthouse the notion that embryos and fetuses with no functioning brains, hearts, lungs, limbs or nervous systems are really people.

  41. March 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    @ Esti

    You’re probably right. I’m honestly reeling from the recent crime legislation – not just the laws themselves, but the ignorant, narrow-minded process that led to it where the most reasonable dissension possible (hell, conservative Texans were telling us we were being stupid!) was treated as if it didn’t exist – that I have no faith in this government not to do horrible things if they felt it was relevant to keeping their power stranglehold. As long as the Canadian public en masse is uninterested in or opposed to changing our reproductive rights laws or gay marriage, etc., then I think Harper’s government will leave it alone. But any lingering expectation I had in the federal government to act for the national interest (much less the interest of specific marginalized and exploited groups) and not its own is gone.

    Mercedes’ article sums it up really well, I think: Neither Panic, Nor Be Complacent.

    I’d love to think that what’s happening in some of these US states could never happen here, but I also see the progression and strategy of what is happening down there and I can’t be so optimistic as to think of it as impossible to replicate here, even if it takes decades.

  42. Chataya
    March 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Under any other circumstances, I’d say it’s a nice change of pace to see other states attempting to catch up with mine, but my sense of humor isn’t quite that bleak.

    It might not look that bad, but Arkansas only has two Planned Parenthood clinics, both of which only provide medical abortions. Two private clinics provide surgical abortions for the entire state (same locations as the PP clinics).

  43. j.
    March 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    And y’all, this is salt-of-the-earth people I’m talking about.

    The common clay of the New South/Midwest/West. You know… morons.

  44. PrettyAmiable
    March 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Really? Morons?

  45. Fef
    March 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm
  46. Angie unduplicated
    March 27, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Unrestrained gratitude and thanks to all y’all who told off GA Rep Terry England and his cronies. They needed the anatomy lesson and the political callout.

  47. j.
    March 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    PrettyAmiable, I’m not on board with the FWD “Ableist Word List,” which also kvetches about words like “scab” and phrases like “I feel your pain.” And I’m not on board with the idea that stupid people are oppressed, either. So, yes, morons.

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