While it gives me great pain to take side with abortion rights activists, in the case of Oklahoma’s new legislation, the Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act, I simply cannot help it. According to a report by Fox News, the new state law would “require doctors to release detailed information” about women who have abortions in Oklahoma — and publish that information on a public Web site.
While the legislation appears to not go so far as to require reporting and dissemination of specifically identifying information about the women, according to the report it does require publication of information with regard to a woman’s race, marital status, financial circumstances, years of education, number of previous pregnancies, and reason for seeking termination of the pregnancy in question.
“Doctors who fail to provide such information,” the Fox News report states, “will be criminally penalized and stripped of their medical licenses.”
Those of you who have been around here for a while know my personal ideological history. Up until about ten years ago, I was a liberal Democrat who simply did not know better. With regard to abortion, I was pro-choice up until the day my daughter was born, six weeks premature, and I had my first opportunity to spend time in a neo-natal intensive care unit. From that point on, from the very moment I first set eyes on the little baby in the incubator-type device next to my daughter, a child that was barely any bigger than a soda can yet was as alert as a three-week old baby, I was changed forever.
My recent libertarian streak still hasn’t fully reached my feelings on abortion, though I do believe that the matter should be left up to the people in each state to decide. I do not believe that it is the function of the federal government to be involved in banning or allowing such procedures nationwide, though I do support the Hyde Amendment, which enjoins the use of federal funds for abortion-related purposes.
All that being said, what Oklahoma state lawmakers are doing is absolutely despicable. It is clearly an overt political action meant to intimidate women who, for some reason or another, are intent upon snuffing out the life of an unborn child.
While such obvious intimidation will undoubtedly result in young lives saved, consider the slippery slope and consequences for, say, the continued debate over the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Anti-gun activists and municipalities alike have been arguing, for a long time now, that concealed carry permit records should be publicly published in newspapers and on municipal Web sites. Plain and simple, the move is intended to intimidate gun owners into not going the extra mile and obtaining a permit to carry. In that respect, I don’t see much of a difference between those efforts and the Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act.
Over the next day or two, you’ll likely hear that the legislation violates the right to privacy as preserved by the Fourth Amendment. I don’t think that’s necessarily it. First of all, there is no constitutional right to privacy; if you’re looking for it, look between the constitutional rights to homeownership and free health care — it’s just not in there. This resembles more closely a patient’s privacy issue pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA, or more commonly as “the reason you need to sign so many more forms in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.”
Any way you look at it, though, this measure is bad news all around. Perhaps, if Oklahoma lawmakers are looking for a way to reduce the number of abortions, they should put the idea of a total ban in front of the people of that state at the next election. Or, for starters, they could implement legislation requiring that all women seeking termination of a pregnancy undergo an ultrasound procedure beforehand in order to ensure that they can see and hear that it is indeed a young life being snuffed out, and not just another medical procedure.