Joy-Ann Reid: Southern Abortion Laws Taking Us Back to 'Before Roe v. Wade'

Commenting on a recent women’s health measure passed by the Louisiana state house, Joy-Ann Reid and MSNBC.com’s Irin Carmon portrayed the bill as an aggressive attack on women’s rights. The law includes such innocuous provisions as a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and a requirement that doctors must have admitting privileges within 30 miles of the clinic where the procedure is performed. This didn’t stop Reid and Carmon from waxing apocalyptic about the bill.

The Reid Report host opined that “people are actually going back to what we had before Roe v. Wade which is trying to find some other way to end a pregnancy which isn’t safe.” Irin Carmon later hyperbolically claimed (MP3 audio here; video below):  

This is a coordinated assault...they go further and further to undo Roe v. Wade which is the ultimate plan here.

These reactions to a very modest bill represent fear-mongering at its finest. This bill pales in comparison to other modest bills from surrounding southern states that have successfully banned abortion after 20 weeks or take measures to ensure women’s health during an abortion. There is no 20-week ban, as reasonable–and popular–as those provisions are.

According to a Gallup Poll, 64% of Americans think abortion should be illegal after the first trimester. In other words, after 12 weeks. One could imagine support climbing even higher for a ban after 20 weeks.

As draconian as the liberal media makes the 20-week abortion bans out to be, they simply put the United States in line with most of the Western world. France, Germany, Italy, Denmark,  and Greece–among many others–ban abortion after 12 weeks. So to claim that a bill designed specifically to ensure women’s health in obtaining an abortion as another rendition of the War on Women is typical MSNBC hype.

See a transcript of the segment below:

MSNBC
The Reid Report
May 22, 2014
2:32 p.m. EDT

JOY-ANN REID, host: Across a swath of southern states, could soon be subject to the broadest restrictions in decades, now that the Louisiana legislature has passed a bill that could force three out of the five state abortion clinics to close. That law follows a now familiar pattern. It requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where the procedure takes place. It also imposes a 24-hour waiting period for non-surgical abortions, or abortions induced by medication. In passing the bill, state lawmakers ignored testimony from doctors and experts who said its restrictions are not medically necessary and would force clinics to close. The Louisiana bill mirrors similar legislation in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi, although some law have been delayed by court challenges. If all are upheld, the number of abortion clinics in the entire region could be reduced from 38 to 11. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, also brushed off warnings that the law would be a setback to women's constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion. About an hour after it passed, he tweeted, “looking forward to signing HB-388. This bill will give women health and safety protection they deserve.” Women in Louisiana and across the south do deserve health and safety protections. Yet politicians in five states have enacted laws that seem less like protection and more like a game of keepaway. Creating a sort of growing zone of lack of access that would make it all but impossible for a woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy to have somewhere to go. Joining me now is MSNBC.com national correspondent Irin Carmon, she’s been reporting on the Louisiana law and similar laws in other states. So, is that an accurate way to sort of portray it? You do if you look at the map see this growing kind of zone where if you live within it, there real is nowhere go, even if you travel out of your state, you have to go pretty far in order to terminate a pregnancy.

IRIN CARMON, MSNBC.com: Right. So when the Texas version of this law was litigated, they said women can go to other states, they can drive really, really fast. That is really just sort of a fraudulent argument. They know that's not true. They know that the next state over is passing the same laws. Let's be very, very clear about what the intentions of these laws are. They are not intended to protect women's health, because the medical establishment said they actually hurt women's health. They do not do anything about the demand for abortion, because women are still in situations where they feel they need to end their pregnancies. You know, we're in a state where not only is there no Medicaid expansion, they severely restrict sexual health education. What these laws are, they've been unable to convince women that they should not get abortions, by spreading this information, by forcing them to wait 24 hours. Instead, they're taking away the supply of safe and legal abortion. And in places where this is already in effect, you are already seeing unsafe abortion on the border in Texas. This is not, you know, women are going to harm themselves some day, it is already happening right now.

REID: So people are not actually just driving miles and miles and miles trying to find somewhere to go, people are actually going back to what we had before Roe v. Wade, which is trying to find some other way to end a pregnancy that isn't safe.

CARMON: They're both happening. And for the people who have to drive hundreds of miles, that means they have to wait longer in their pregnancy, which means higher risks, even though abortion is a very safe procedure, it means more money, often the travel itself is something these people cannot afford.

REID: Talk about the extent to which this is model legislation. Is this legislation that is each individual state coming up with it on their own or is there sort of a cookie cutter approach being applied?

CARMON: It isn't magic. But all these contiguous states just came up with their idea on their own. Absolutely, this is a coordinated assault. Americans United for Life in particular, National Right to Life Committee is another one, they craft these model bills every year. Americans United for life has a handbook of laws, they’re all called kind of misleading things like a woman's right to know act. They sound like they're about women's health. In reality, they go further and further to undo Roe V. Wade which is the ultimate plan here.

REID: You talk in your article about this idea of undue burden. The Roe v. wade structure is kind of built on the legs of saying that you cannot enact an undue burden broadly against women. At what point do we get to the point, you say it's a slippery slope, this idea of undue burden, in the hands of some conservative judges it’s been almost meaningless. Are we getting to the point where a national case could be made that by making this big sort of amoebe like zone where you cannot get an abortion, undue burden kicks in?

CARMON: The Supreme Court crafted this very untenable standard with undue burden because undue burden is really in the eyes of the beholder. If  driving 350 miles when you're an undocumented immigrant, or when you’re a low-income person,  is not an undue burden, what is? That's precisely what the fifth circuit in Texas said. It said, that’s not an undue burden, women can just drive really fast, Texas is a big state. So eventually, I think the supreme court is going to have to reevaluate this. And it looks like Justice Breyer said there are four votes to take one of these cases for the Supreme Court to say whether this violates women's rights.

REID: And very quickly, this is something that is actually accelerating after the 2010 election. We saw this really marked jump in the number of restrictions that are passed-- you can see it on the chart there, that it sort of goes along and really leaps after 2010. If we were to see, let's say the Senate, go Republican, you know, I assume we can anticipate sort of on a national scale maybe more of it. There have been a lot of House bills that have gone nowhere in the Senate.

CARMON: Absolutely, the senate is a firewall right now. The presidency is also a firewall. But if the presidency changes hands in 2016, if this fall we see the senate fall into the hands of Republicans, we're very likely to see these kinds restrictions on a national level, starting with the 20-week ban and going to anything else they can get away with it.

REID: Yeah, cookie-cutter legislation, as you said, already exists. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

CARMON: Thank you, joy.
Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.