Marcotte applauds a bill in Congress that would prohibit targeted restrictions on abortion providers:
It’s called the Women’s Health Protection Act, and it would end the attacks on abortion clinics through one simple measure: requiring states to regulate abortion providers in exactly the same way they do other clinics and doctors who provide comparable services. No more singling out abortion providers. …
Want to force women seeking abortion to listen to a script full of lies and then make them wait 24 or 48 hours to think it over? Better be prepared to do the same for people who need colonoscopies. Want to require a bunch of unnecessary visits before a woman is allowed to have a procedure? Now you need to do that for a biopsy, too. Want to force abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards and abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges? Well, dentists will have to meet the same standards before they can drill a tooth.
Because a tooth has the same moral standing as a fetus. And this is apparently self-evident. Callie Beusman concedes that “there’s basically no chance that the bill will pass the GOP-controlled House” but adds, “that doesn’t mean it’s not significant”:
It serves the valuable purpose of asking Republicans to explain the disingenuous, unsupported reasoning behind the scores of excessive regulations they’ve imposed in the past few years. As [sponsor Richard] Blumenthal notes, this may effectively remove the “patina of respectability” from the whole ridiculous charade. Which would be a very welcome change indeed.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Nolan Brown mulls over the proper libertarian response:
Putting an end to this sort of infringement on women’s abortion access is a noble goal. But it’s one thing to fight states passing these types of laws and another to say the federal government should pass a law blocking states from passing these types of laws. If the state laws are unconstitutional, shouldn’t that be left to the courts to determine? Why a federal act? …
I put this question to some libertarians I know, inside and out of Reason, and received a range of responses. Some pointed out that the text of the Women’s Health Protection Act was very vague—under what standard do we determine if an abortion restriction is “medically unwarranted” or oppressive? And under what constitutional provision is Congress claiming the power to enact this law?
But others said that when it comes to protecting individuals from government intrusion, federal action can be appropriate; and where government is passing laws to restrict itself to uphold the Constitution, that can be a good thing. “I’m a peoples’-rights advocate, not a states-rights advocate,” as one Facebook friend commented. “What matters is if individual liberty is, on net, increased.”
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz describes the bill as “a very real manifestation of a war on women … given the health consequences that unlimited abortion access has had on many women.” It will be interesting to see if “many women” agree.