Utah's Dumb Anti-Abortion Laws Not As Fabulously Persuasive As They'd Hoped
Like many states, Utah has implemented a bunch of dumb laws meant to dissuade women from having an abortion. In addition to a 72-hour waiting period, the state also requires that those seeking an abortion go through "mandatory counseling" that they have to pay for, and which does not have to be based in any kind of reality or be medically accurate.
Of course, although there is a 72-hour waiting period to have an abortion in Utah -- because they think someone might just be getting all hot-headed and want the abortion on a sheer whim, they have no waiting period for buying a gun. Because buying a gun has never been part of a rash decision that one might come to regret later, as we all know.
Now, the idea behind these laws is to dissuade us uterus-havers from having abortions. To make us wait in case we're doing this rashly and will change our mind given a state-mandated period of time to think about it. You know, because maybe after a day passes, and some asshole we don't know talks to us about how if we have an abortion all our future babies could be born with horns or something else they made up, we might decide we were not so much in the mood for an abortion anymore and would prefer going for ice cream instead.
But, as it turns out, that shit doesn't actually work! Who would have thought?
A recent study on the effect of these laws in Utah conducted by the University of California at San Francisco surveyed 500 women on their first informational visit to a Utah abortion clinic, and then again three weeks later. After the three weeks had passed, 86% had completed the procedure, 3% turned out to not be pregnant or suffered a miscarriage, and 2% were still planning on having an abortion but hadn't done so yet.
Of the eight percent that were left? Eleven women, 4% of those who completed the followup survey, had said initially that their preference was to keep the baby anyway. What they were doing there, who can be sure? Maybe just checking out all their options as a just-in-case. As far as the others? "Nine (3% of those completing follow-up) had preferred abortion and had been somewhat or highly conﬂicted, and seven (2% of those completing follow-up) had preferred abortion and had low conﬂict."
While the most common reason was that they "just couldn't do it" -- like two women who had always felt opposed to abortion to begin with -- the second most common reason was for financial reasons. Like one woman who just couldn't afford to do two appointments, or those that were not able to take that much time off of work. Many women in Utah live very far away from a clinic, so obtaining an abortion and being able to take enough time off of work to to and from the clinic, arrange for childcare, and pay for gas and for the mandatory counseling session (which ranged in costs from $0-$590) is not always doable. The third most common reason was that someone else had come through for them, like one woman whose boyfriend decided to step up to the plate. The fourth? WHELP, by the time those women were able to arrange for two separate appointments, they were already too far along.
It's fairly clear that those that didn't end up having abortions decided against them for reasons other than being persuaded by the counseling, or because they were required by law to wait -- the same reasons they likely would have gone with if those laws weren't there in the first place. After all, not everyone who considers an abortion is going to have one anyway. Just like any other medical procedure! The only thing these infantilizing laws do, it's pretty clear, is to make the procedure more of an eventual pain in the ass for those who want it. If someone wants more time to think about something, they'll take it themselves -- they don't have to be forced to.
If the state feels so strongly about all this crap, they should have to reimburse everyone who goes through it -- for the cost of the counseling, for the extra day taken out of work, for childcare, for gas money, and any other costs associated with it. It's a person's choice to have an abortion and they have to pay for that themselves, but it's Utah's choice to make them run the abortion gauntlet, so maybe they ought to take some personal responsibility and pay for that themselves.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse