Abortion Services and Private Medical Decision-Making
Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico believes that the decision to have an abortion is a matter of personal choice and that every woman – regardless of income, age or marital status – has the fundamental right to decide when and whether to have a child without governmental interference.
Anti-abortion rights groups and elected officials are working to erode the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision through advancing restrictive statewide legislation including:
- Mandatory waiting periods require women to wait up to 24 hours between a state-mandated counseling appointment and their abortions. These laws imply that women come to abortion clinics without having seriously considered their options. As a result of these waiting periods, a woman’s abortion is often delayed, particularly if she has to take time off from work, arrange for child care, and travel. These factors create additional barriers to women’s access to abortion services.
- Mandatory ultrasounds require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound. Since routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion. Moreover, an ultrasound can add significantly to the cost of the procedure.
- Biased counseling laws (so-called “Woman’s Right to Know” laws) require that clinic personnel talk their patients through detailed, state prescribed “scripts” designed to promote childbearing and frighten and dissuade women from having abortions. These coercive scripts are incompatible with the goal of true informed consent and interfere with the privacy of a physician-patient relationship.
- TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) single out abortion providers for medically unnecessary, politically motivated state regulations, including: personnel qualifications, building and/or structural requirements, and disparate fees and licensing requirements. These laws hold abortion providers and facilities to significantly more stringent standards than any other category of medical service.
- Conscience/refusal clauses permit individuals and institutions including hospitals, hospital employees, health care providers, pharmacists, and insurance companies to refuse to provide, pay for, counsel for, or even refer patients for medical treatment the provider opposes based on personally held beliefs. Broad refusal clauses deny women medically necessary information, referrals and services. This places particular burdens on women in rural areas with already limited access to providers and services.
- Time-restricted bans, such as the Albuquerque ban, which set a time limit on the period during which a woman can obtain an abortion, such as 20 weeks. Although a vast majority of states restrict later-term abortions, many of these restrictions have been struck down. Most often, courts have voided the limitations because they do not contain a health exception; contain an unacceptably narrow health exception; or do not permit a physician to determine viability in each individual case, but rather rely on a rigid construct based on specific weeks of gestation or trimester.