Palin’s anti-choice legacy

July 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

Via Feministing, a post by Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones tells us that one of Palin’s last acts in office was to accelerate a parental notice and consent law for women under 18 who are seeking abortion.

We see this shit all the time: my sisters’ rights to our own bodies are routinely taken away in the name of paternalistic “protection.” We saw it in the conservative media hoopla when the FDA approved over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for women 17 and older, as opposed to an earlier 18 and older policy (my favorite Mike Galanos quote: “With Plan B, they can do it now and deal with it later”). And we’re seeing it again with Palin. Nevermind that young women who don’t tell their parents about their abortion have damn good reasons for keeping quiet.

Before news of the resignation, Beverly Wooley and Jay Butler, two of Alaska’s public health experts, were essentially forced out of office for meddling in Palin’s anti-choice crusade.

Both [Wooley and Butler] made the critical mistake of wanting to present scientific evidence on the impact of parental consent laws to the state Senate. They never got the chance; the Senate “ran out of time.” From the Anchorage Daily News:

Wooley said she also intended to answer questions from legislators and said she would rely on data, not anyone’s personal beliefs. Whether she personally agreed with the governor is beside the point, Wooley said.

She intended to refer to studies from states that already had passed similar legislation, she said. Some of the research shows that, with parental involvement requirements, girls tend to get abortions later in their pregnancy, which is riskier and more expensive, she said. Other research shows fewer girls get abortions, which abortion foes like Palin likely would applaud. Wooley cautioned that the studies are small and not definitive because such laws are still fairly new.

That was enough to get her canned. And guess what? The next day, the very day that Palin resigned:

A proposal to require parental notice or consent before a female younger than 18 could have an abortion was certified Thursday by the state so that its backers can seek enough signatures to get the initiative before voters next year.

So, Sarah Palin may be gone soon. But her policies live on.

I’d just like to say: this is outrageous. Not only that Palin is so clearly shaming young women for having sex (how crazy is that? Women having sex?! News to me!); not only that she is firing staff for, in Clara Jeffery’s words, making the “critical mistake of wanting to present scientific evidence…to the state Senate” (I mean, I know Palin is scared of science, but come on!); but also that a young woman’s fundamental right to control her own body is being set aside in favor of abortion statistics.

Even if the stats show that requiring parental consent for teenagers’ abortions lowers rates — party at the Palin anti-choice mansion, anyone? I love me some barbecued moose — I still need the right to get the procedure without my parents knowing! Statistics and evidence are of course vitally important to crafting effective legislation, but reproductive rights and bodily integrity should not depend on whichever survey is being considered. They are fundamental.

Cross-posted at Feministe.


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