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Waiting Periods and Informed Consent Laws

Abortion-specific "informed" consent laws unnecessarily insert the government into private decision making and the doctor-patient relationship. This is consistent with Bush's anti-choice agenda.

  • 28 states require state-directed "counseling" for women seeking an abortion. Counseling provisions vary, but they often include information designed to discourage women from obtaining an abortion, such as telling them that the father of the fetus is liable for child support, providing a list of abortion-alternative and adoption agencies, offering to show photographs of fetuses at various stages of development and telling women abortion may cause breast cancer.(1)
  • 22 of the states that require counseling also require women to wait a specified period, typically 24 hours, after the counseling before obtaining the abortion. A few states mandate that the counseling be given in person, instead of over the phone or via the internet, thus requiring women to make two trips to the health care provider.(2)
  • As Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack commented, "["Informed” consent laws] are about government prescribing what a woman should think about, when a woman should think, and for how long a woman should think. This goes beyond the appropriate role of government.”
  • "Informed” consent laws often mandate that a woman is given inflammatory and medically inaccurate materials, emphasizing alleged medical risks and the state’s preference for childbirth through biased "counseling” and pictorial depictions.
  • State-imposed waiting periods create substantial obstacles particularly burdensome for low-income women, young women, women who work, or those without transportation by requiring a woman to make multiple trips to the clinic, often located at great distance from their homes.
  • State-imposed waiting periods can mean a forced delay of days or even weeks, compelling a woman to undergo a later abortion that poses increased risks to her health. Many clinics offer abortion services only two or three days a week, with waiting lists for appointments – even when a woman is able to get an appointment, she may be unable to return due to work, family or lack of resources.

Footnotes:

(1)
Alan Guttmacher Institute. State Policies in Brief. Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion. January 2005. Available online at:
http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MWPA.pdf (last visited: January 31, 2005)

(2)
Alan Guttmacher Institute. State Policies in Brief. Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion. January 2005. Available online at:
http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MWPA.pdf (last visited: Jan 31, 2005)

 
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