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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Utah's 72-hour waiting period


According to the Salt Lake Tribune,


Come Tuesday, Utah will become the only state in the nation with a law requiring a woman to wait 72 hours for an abortion.

...

"I think it’s a positive change for women and children," said [Sponsoring Rep. Steve] Eliason. "At the end of the day, it’s a consumer-protection law.

"The focus of this bill is women having time to consider all of the information that is given to them when facing a life-altering decision that somebody else is making money off of," he said.

Eliason compared it to a cancer patient receiving all the relevant information before beginning treatment. And he pointed to legal waiting periods already in force for such things as adoptions, mortgage approval, marriage and divorce — all of which can be undone.


Some studies show that these types of restrictions tend to decrease abortions, but in what way?  


Supporters of this type of legislation tend to fear that women will get an abortion under emotional duress without considering all ramifications; they cite testimony from post-abortive women who later had children and came to deeply regret their abortions as they saw subsequent pregnancies in a different light.  Supporters hope this type of legislation gives women pause, allows them to reconsider, and thus decreases the number of women who choose abortion.


Opponents argue that women already carefully consider such an important decision and that it is condescending and controlling to make them think about it longer.  Opponents say that this type of legislation restricts abortion access to women by requiring them to find more time and resources to make these appointments, particularly women who live in areas where they have to travel long distances to get to abortion clinics.  


And so, dear Reader, we ask for your take:
  1. What research is available about the effects of mandatory waiting periods? Do waiting periods decrease abortions by getting women to reconsider, preventing women from abortion access, or both?  Or another option?
  2. What other medical procedures have mandatory waiting periods?  Do you think there should be mandatory waiting periods for more medical procedures? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think there should be mandatory waiting periods for other potentially emotional decisions, such as divorce or adoption? Why or why not?


9 comments:

Kelsey said...

Good questions, Monica. Thanks again for taking over while I study for finals! Since I'm taking a short study break, here's my perspective:

1) It's probably a combination of both, but unfortunately it's difficult to do research in this area. Women who think about having an abortion, then don't, are hard to track.

2) One procedure that immediately comes to mind is sex reassignment surgery. In most (all?) states, extensive counseling is a prerequisite. Many doctors require a person to live as the opposite sex for months or even years before they'll go forward with surgery-- even if the patient feels that he or she has been trapped in the wrong body since childhood. Maybe we could stand to tone it down a bit, but as a general matter, I think this approach is right. Having a sex change is a major life event. So is killing your preborn child.

A lot of abortion advocates compare waiting periods for abortion to a hypothetical waiting period for Viagra, because they're convinced this is all about hating women. Sorry, but going on Viagra is not a major life event. The sex change is a better analogy. (But perhaps there's a fair analogy to be made in terms of informed consent; any doctor who doesn't warn the male patient about all the cardiovascular risks associated with Viagra ought to be investigated.)

3. There is already, in effect, a waiting period for adoption, just because the paperwork takes so long. Particularly in a foster-to-adopt situation, it's common for the kid to live with the family for several months before the formal adoption is complete. That's probably a good thing. As for divorce, many couples go through a trial separation, but that definitely shouldn't be mandated. The state has no business forcing people who hate each other to stay married.

Anonymous said...

The state has no business forcing people who hate each other to stay married. But the state DOES have a business in forcing pregnant women to carry the pregnancy to term because she shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place if she didn't want to have the kid.

Thanks Kelsey.

Kelsey said...

Divorce isn't lethal. Major difference.

Anonymous said...

35% of women live in counties without an abortion provider. [ http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html ] If a woman is mandated to go to the clinic and then leave and then come back, of course her access is going to be impeded. There are a lot of people who don't have cars, or who have cars but can't afford to fix them or gas them up. Making 2 trips to the clinic could easily be 1 more trip than a woman can afford.

And the most recent study on women's attitudes towards abortion shows that 87% of women seeking abortions had a high level of confidence in their decision even before pre-abortion counseling. [ http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/4411712.html ] If pre-counseling does its job, even more women are confident of their decision -- whether that decision is to abort or not to abort -- after professional counseling.

I can't imagine that waiting 3 days (after the possibly weeks of scraping up money) changes anyone's mind. But it could surely change their access.

But I can't imagine that any pro-life person really cares about that. If you think abortion is murder, why would you care how you go about stopping it? Change her mind vs. shame her away vs. make it financially impossible vs. chain her to her house? The only reason I can see you caring is public relations. You need to at least appear reasonable and compassionate...

Simon said...

Maybe it would be good to throw in any time when there has been mandatory waiting period that that mother then gets increased financial support if she forgoes an abortion.

I wonder if the troll would think it would be the states business to force unwilling parents to care for an unwanted babies if Post Birth abortions became law. They aren't persons and there is often trauma for mothers when adoptiion is involved.

Anonymous said...

Okay so in Utah it takes a three day waiting period to have an abortion.

I wonder how long you have to wait to buy a gun.

Anonymous said...

I just checked, there isn't.

Utah: Get your guns right now, wait 72 hours for an abortion.

Anonymous said...

I think it's sick that an anti-abortion activist can buy a gun on an impulse, but a woman who discovers that she's pregnant needs to wait 72 hours.

Hmm said...

"But I can't imagine that any pro-life person really cares about that. If you think abortion is murder, why would you care how you go about stopping it? Change her mind vs. shame her away vs. make it financially impossible vs. chain her to her house? The only reason I can see you caring is public relations. You need to at least appear reasonable and compassionate..."

I don't agree with this verbatim but I think it's a good point. It's worth knowing how effective various methods are and what their specific effects are; more knowledge is always better. But that's a separate issue from whether people *care* what the exact effects of methods are, as long as they decrease abortions.

If you believe abortion is equivalent to infanticide, it seems reasonable for you to be fine with making it financially more difficult to obtain abortions, even if the woman wants an abortion just as much with or without waiting periods.