Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision, allows states to ban abortions after a fetus is viable outside the womb. But in the past three years, states have gone significantly further. North Dakota’s ban, at six weeks post-conception, is the earliest in the nation. The Washington Post as an interactive map chartingthese restrictions, using data from the Guttmacher Institute to map all the laws that ban later-term abortion in the United States.
Sometimes the truth is a strange as fiction. As an example take a proposed legislation in Arizona (SB 1376) that is eerily similar to the scenario presented in the fiction novel, Living Proof.
Writes Jodi Jacobson on In New Push for “Personhood,” Arizona Anti-Choicers Push Bill to Track Every Embryo:
An Arizona group seeking to establish legal personhood for fertilized eggs and embryos is proposing a new way for the state to keep tabs on the personal reproductive decisions of its citizens: Embryo tracking.A bill quietly wending its way through the Arizona legislature would create a database to track every embryo in the state created through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), defined in the bill as: “Any procedure, treatment or medical or scientific intervention provided for the purpose of formation of a human embryo with the intent to produce a live birth.” It has nine Republican co-sponsors.[...]CAP also opposes the practice of assisted reproductive technology for couples or individuals struggling with infertility, and so their answer is to pry into the lives of those seeking such assistance and making all details of their medical treatment public. Similar to portions of SB 1361, another bill from the 2012 legislative session, this newer bill seeks to capture and make publicly available information on the disposition of every embryo created in the process of in-vitro fertilization, and the results of every treatment involving ART. The information required is largely redundant to the statistics and information submitted to the CDC, most of which is publicly available.According to a source who works in communications in Arizona but spoke to us without attribution, “each legislative session since 2010 we have seen bills seeking to eliminate or reduce the ability of Arizonans confronted with infertility to utilize ART to build their families. These attempts have always included severe penalties for the physicians who treat these patients in our state.” CAP, according to the source, also has been:“…trying and failing for full personhood that would ban abortion by, basically, making doctors and women guilty of murder. They have failed to date, thankfully, which is why CAP has altered their approach. Instead of coming after personhood head on, they are now taking smaller steps that seem somewhat innocuous. In addition to the redundant and unnecessary reporting, much of which is already required by the CDC, this is merely the beginning of a constant chipping away at the choices available for Arizona families.
If passed, SB 1376 would threaten the practices and licenses of reproductive endocrinologists in Arizona. Failure to file reports or filing a false report on embryo creation, transfer, destruction, or movement from one facility to another would be a criminal act and result in an automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct. Facilities that violate the requirements are subject to discipline by the state Department of Health Services and also to civil penalties.
This bill requires all “ART” facilities to report annually (either electronically or in written form) the following information to the State Department of Health Services, which in turn would make it publicly available:
- Total number of live births achieved
- Rate of live births per transfer
- Percentage of live births per completed cycle of egg retrieval
- Percentage of transferred embryos that implant
Information regarding the safekeeping of embryos including:
- Number of embryos formed
- Number of embryos transferred
- Number of embryos preserved
- Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and destroyed
- Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and used for training
- Number of embryos not deemed viable for transfer or preservation and used for research
- Number of preserved embryos destroyed
- Number of preserved embryos used for research
- Number of preserved embryos donated to any person for research
- Number of embryos donated to another individual for transfer
- Percentage of pregnancies resulting in multi-fetal pregnancies broken down by number of fetuses
- Percentage of live births having multiple infants
- Number of selective reductions performed, broken down by number of embryos transferred before the reduction
- Percentage of selective reductions resulting in miscarriage
- Percentage of birth defects per single and multiple births
Penalties for non-compliance include:
- Failure to file a report results in automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct
- Filing a false report is a Class 1 misdemeanor (just below felony in the law)
- In addition to individual penalties, any organization or facility that violates the reporting requirements is subject to discipline by the Department including civil penalties.
Apart from intruding on the decisions of couples or individuals struggling with infertility, SB 1376 seeks to achieve other means, including intimidating doctors who practice assisted reproductive technology and eventually to shame those who rely on it to become pregnant, as well as a stepping stone to establishing “personhood” for fertilized eggs and embryos.