American Independent, 9/27/2012 [Archive]

Anti-Abortion Plan Raise Costs for Women

Anti-Abortion Plan: Raise Costs for Women

By Sofia Resnick, The American Independent

A prominent anti-abortion scholar recently made public what abortion-rights advocates have long suspected: One purpose of restrictive abortion laws is to impede access to the procedure by making it less affordable for women.

Veering from traditional arguments -- such as claims that the restrictions are intended to help women make informed choices -- Michael J. New told an audience of abortion foes that policies should be designed to raise "the costs" of abortions. He pointed specifically to "informed-consent laws" requiring ultrasounds and multiple trips to a clinic.

"The best thing you can do when you get home is support a variety of state pro-life bills, and essentially, if your state has them, they can be strengthened," New said during a September presentation at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C.

"You can defund abortion by stopping Medicaid funding or by defunding Planned Parenthood," he continued. "You can strengthen parental-involvement laws, by requiring both parents to be involved. You can strengthen informed-consent laws: Require the woman to see an ultrasound, or require two trips to the clinic. That raises the costs; that stops the abortion from happening. You can lengthen the waiting period. Don't be like the other states that do 24, 48, 72 hours. Do it for nine months -- that'll stop abortions in your state. I guarantee it."

New is an adjunct scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which was founded in 2011 as the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that works to elect abortion rights opponents to Congress. The Lozier Institute has been touted as abortion opponents' response to the Guttmacher Institute, a policy group once affiliated with Planned Parenthood that produces research that is often cited by scholars and journalists on all sides of the abortion debate.

New said his research has found a correlation between states' anti-abortion legislation and declines in abortion -- among 47 states that reported data in 1990 and 2005, he said the number of abortions dropped by about 22 percent.

In an interview following the panel discussion, New said that abortion laws that require two separate trips to the clinic drive up the costs for women trying to get an abortion, "especially for women in rural areas."

"We really know a lot about public funding restrictions, and we know a lot about parental involvement," New said. "There's also a body of research -- not as large -- on informed-consent laws, and the important thing there is they really have to be designed the right way. They typically have to require two separate trips to the clinic. That kind of raises the economic costs of getting an abortion, especially for women in rural areas, women who live far away."

New's anti-abortion colleagues are apparently less eager to make this argument. Asked about New's comments, a spokesperson for the SBA List said that informed-consent laws are intended to help women, not hinder their decisions.

"The goal with both informed consent legislation and waiting periods is to provide essential information to the mother thinking about abortion and ensure she has time to consider it," said Mallory Quigley in an email. "States are advising mothers of fetal development and alternatives and providing reassurance that the community prefers childbirth over abortion. The waiting period is not a tax but a time for reflection and even consultation about the support services available to mothers."

But New continues to talk about raising costs for women as an effective means of reducing abortions. Writing for the National Review Online last week, New approvingly argued that new abortion restrictions in Arizona had led to a decline in that state's abortion rates.

"The informed-consent law requires the woman to receive in-person counseling from a physician 24 hours before the abortion," New wrote. "These provisions have been shown to improve the effectiveness of informed-consent laws. Women have more time to reflect on the information they are given and the extra trip to the clinic often raises the economic cost of the abortion. Overall, it is heartening to see that pro-lifers in Arizona are using lessons learned from other states."


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This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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