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Abortion in Kansas: "It's A Trap!"



For "Star Wars" fans, it's one of the top quotes of the "original trilogy," perhaps only eclipsed by "Luke... I am your father." Without too much detail: The Rebel Alliance is launching an assault on the newer, bigger "Death Star" space station, thinking that is not yet operational. When a huge laser blast erupts from the surface of the station, taking out one of the larger Rebel ships, they realize that the station, while not yet complete, is fully operational. Admiral Ackbar makes his legendary exclamation.

The "trap" that conservative theocrats (mostly, but not all, evangelical Christians) have sprung on Kansas this year is just as powerful as the dreaded Death Star... and just as callous in its regard for "safety" or "human life." The whole purpose of this new law is to stop abortion--without prohibiting abortion.

Barry Yeoman's article, "Quiet War on Abortion," was originally published in Mother Jones magazine about ten years ago--but the strategy exposed by Yeoman has been growing ever since, and it has now finally made it's way into Kansas.

One of the most popular methods has been through laws that pro-choice advocates call Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP). Pioneered in the mid-1990s by South Carolina and Mississippi, the laws apply licensing requirements specifically to abortion clinics, but not to other facilities that perform similar or riskier procedures. The laws vary from state to state, but often include building regulations that specify ceiling heights, hallway and doorway widths, counseling-room dimensions, air-circulation rates, outdoor weed-control practices, and separate changing rooms for men. Some require the purchase of expensive supplies not normally used in clinics, such as general anesthesia equipment. Others mandate staffing levels above those usually needed for first-trimester abortions. Missouri, for example, requires a registered nurse on staff when most clinics rely on less-expensive licensed practical nurses.

It's really pretty effective, when you think about it. First, get a new law enacted that requires a clinic to have, say, the equivalent of 1,000 sq. ft. of space for every patient bed. Give them a really, really tight schedule to meet the requirements--say, six months--and then watch the fun ensue. Even if they can come up with the funding to buy the land for a new clinic... how can they possibly expect to find a building contractor with that kind of gaping hole in their schedule?

Whether it's requiring unusually large amounts of floor space... excessive staff members on duty.... or 18K gold toilet paper holders in all the restrooms, the key to this kind of legislation is that none of it directly addresses abortion itself.

Imagine, if you will, that we required new building standards for gun dealers. People get hit by stray bullets all the time--we should protect people! "Anyone inside the gun shop [including Walmart--they do sell guns!] should be required to wear a Kevlar vest, helmet, and eye protection at all times. Customers must be provided with these items in a small anteroom before actually entering the sales area. Furthermore, to reduce the risk of stray bullets accidentally going through the walls of the store: All outer walls must be no less than 18 standard inches in thickness. The walls must be constructed of reinforced concrete, with a 4 inch thick plate of steel in the center of each wall. All gun retailers must comply with this new regulation in 3 months."

I would never support such ridiculous legislation. I would never want that foolishness inflicted on any law-abiding, responsible gun dealer or gun owner.

Neither do I support targeted regulation of abortion providers. Women with unwanted pregnancies--especially victims of rape or incest--feel "trapped" enough already.

Abortion should be legal... rare... and safe. I don't believe for a moment that the Kansas legislators who voted for their ridiculous laws earlier this year ever had anyone's "safety" in mind.


Cait McKnelly 6 years, 8 months ago

First off, why is your blog entry not showing up on the home page of the web edition? Of course this is a trap! It's being used all over the country in conservative states to make an end run around SCOTUS. And it's being used by people that have no more true concern for the "safety" of "women" than Genghis Khan did for Mongolia. To hell with the women, it's the four celled "babies" they wring their hands over. If they had any idea how many women conceive and naturally "abort" in the first two weeks without even knowing they were pregnant (over two thirds of all conceptions) they would never stop wearing black. But they cry "states rights" and get away with it. Personally, I think SCOTUS needs to start widening their definition of "undue burden". Not necessarily on point of the topic of abortion, but I find it highly ironic that the Civil War was, in the minds of many people, fought over the issue of "states rights" versus "federal rights" (which was actually the issue that covered slavery). Abraham Lincoln was, of course, a supporter of federal rights and the Union. He was a "Republican" in the original sense of the word. He believed in a strong republic with a strong central governement. Odd, is it not, that it's now the Republicans that champion states rights? One wonders how he would feel about today's Republican Party.

LadyJ 6 years, 8 months ago

Think I remember somebody showing us how to have a blog without it showing up on the list. Maybe you have accidentally done it that way. Maybe you should e-mail JK and ask. I think at the time it was considered a neat way to have a semi-private blog.

LadyJ 6 years, 8 months ago

Oh, and totally agree with your blog.

nouseforaname 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree with your statements and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

This fight isn't about abortion. It's not about religion.

It's about power. Pure and simple. Using God as a blunt weapon to gain earthly/secular power. Women and abortion are an easy target. Easy to get people stirred up about the innocent unborn. Easy to get people stirred up about women having the power to have sex and not make babies. Easy to get people stirred up with their false sense of morality and the "we're all going to hell in a hand basket" if this is allowed to continue. Easy to blame "liberals" for all evil in the world. Easy to get their minions to repeat the lies they hand out like candy.

If you have to undermine democracy to do it, well, the end justifies the means. They don't really like democracy anyway---they think democracy and freedom is the ability to force everybody to believe like them. And it's all for our own good.

If more women will die because of this, they deserve it.

It's all about power.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

Nothing you said negates anything I said.

I'm not going to get involved in an argument about whether abortion is wrong or not because it's all been said a thousand times and nobody is going to change their mind.

Whether abortion is wrong or not has nothing to do with the fact that it's all about power, not whether abortion is right or wrong. Like I said, it's not about abortion---or religion.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

Ag, I'm not sure why you're asking me this question. I'm individually responsible for myself. I also carry a certain amount of responsibility for the welfare of those around me. However, I don't know what is best for another person and if I try to manipulate others for their own good, I'm treading on very dangerous ground.

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

So where do we sign up to get these great gun sale laws enacted! I'll bet a dead rat has been found in a Wal-Mart somewhere. ; )

Great blog agno, and absolutely correct. Restrictive laws intended to stop a legal medical procedure.

Tange, while I appreciate your feelings against abortion, it is still a legal procedure in this country. Ridiculous laws about landscaping and janitorial closet sizes should not be allowed when the obvious intent is to drive the buisiness out of business. What happens when it happens in other businesses? Should a full firestation be required at candle shops? What if we start demanding that full marine safety equipment and a lifeguard be on duty at all baptisms?

I'm just curious, do you believe that with greater sex education that pregnancy rates among teens goes down? Perhaps we can achieve the desired "rare" status for abortions with more education. Real, ongoing education, and not just one afternoon where the boys and girls are separated and asked to watch old, grainy films with cartoon sperms and eggs.

Just like gun safety being important to lower gun fatalities, education can help with issues surrounding unplanned and unwanted pregancies. Of course, that doesn't get into the issues of abortions due to problematic pregancies, but if unplanned pregnancies and hence abortions were rarer perhaps we wouldn't have the furor over abotions in general. It is all about the education we provide our young.

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

tange, while i appreciate your inevitable, logical conclusion against abortion, care to take a stab at the questions posed? do you think it would be okay to single out other legal businesses and create laws that only apply to that form of enterprise as a way to drive them out of business? do you believe sex education can be a major deterent to unplanned pregancy and isn't that a way to help make abortions rare? i'm just curious.

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

It appears you are saying the end justifies the means.

Lets hope the religious who are in positions of legislative power don't start targeting other things they disagree with. We have societies like that in this world. They are societies I would not want to be part.

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

A world that forces women to carry to term children they do not want is one that is ruled by zealots, both political and religious. As we see in places like Iran, is truly is a world gone awry. It stems from the misguided beliefs that life begins at conception along with male superiority over women. If men were the ones who got pregnant, abortions would be performed like a Minute-Lube oil change.

verity 6 years, 8 months ago

Another example of a TARP law.


To paraphrase the jist of the article: Abortion-rights opponents seem willing to go to any length to restrict, discourage or hinder abortion even if it means risking a woman's health or violating core values of health care.

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

If these laws were about safety, then you would be correct. Since they are intended for the sole purpose of driving abortionists out of business, you are incorrect.

parrothead8 6 years, 8 months ago

Regulating ceiling heights, door widths, and weed control isn't borne out of a concern for safety.

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