Monday, June 7, 2010

Sate by State

Over at RH Reality Check, Robin Marty notes that Minnesota is one of the very few states that ensures access to abortion through a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling, Doe vs. Gomez. She notes:
In 1995, the Minnesota State Supreme Court ruled via Doe vs. Gomez that the right to choose is in fact a fundamental right for women in the state of Minnesota. Based on this fact, the ruling states that the state cannot selectively cover pregnancy-related services by funding prenatal care and childbirth expenses while refusing to cover abortion services, as such support would be an implicit denial of a woman’s right to chose to carry a child to term or not. Not funding abortion services then adds “undue financial constraints” to for low-income women, eliminating choice. Hence, any law that would be passed in the state that would eliminate such abortion funding would necessarily be ruled unconstitutional.

Minnesota isn’t in fact the only state that has passed legislation or had court cases ensuring that low–income women have access to abortion, either via a form of Medicaid or other state funding. Massachusetts, New York, California, Oregon and Washington are also states that do the same, with abortion coverage rules that are actually considered more lenient than federal laws governed by the Hyde Amendment. But what states pass, legislators can sometimes manage to take away. According to a Planned Parenthood fact sheet on the court case, Doe vs. Gomez was used as a precedent for abortion funding in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Sadly, in Arizona this year public funding for abortion was restricted to helping women who needed abortions in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment, something Texas had already changed as well. Florida is attempting the same, with the law passed but still not yet signed by Governor Crist.

For better or worse, each state is making its own decisions about whether women have access to abortion. In Minnesota, they decided that the lack of affordability is a restriction the right to choose. It's great that women in Minnesota have that access, but not everyone does.

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