The Scarlet A in Oklahoma

THE SCARLET A IN OKLAHOMA…. If you haven’t heard about the new abortion restrictions in Oklahoma, take a few minutes to watch this segment from “The Rachel Maddow Show” from the other day. (The segment on Oklahoma begins in earnest around the 2:12 mark.)

The Atlantic‘s Tali Yahalom had a good item summarizing the problem this week: “A new Oklahoma law will require the details of every abortion to be posted on a public website.
Mothers — or would-be mothers, rather — will be prompted to answer 37 questions that range from her marital status and race to how many times she’s ever been pregnant.”

Yahalom added, “The website, which will cost $200,000 per year to implement, is intended to prevent or decrease the number of abortions in Oklahoma, but the bill has already raised considerable debate, attracting opposition from the Center For Reproductive Rights and former Oklahoma Representative Wanda Jo Stapleton, among others. This questionnaire not only forces doctors into an uncomfortable predicament — failure to disclose this information would result in ‘criminal sanctions and loss of medical license,’ as Salon’s Lynn Harris reports — but, put simply, it shames women. ‘They’re really just trying to frighten women out of having abortions,’ Kery Parks, director of external affairs at Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, told Harris. Indeed, in a small town, probing details would easily identify the woman with a proverbial scarlet A.”

Rachel added, “The 37 questions suggested in the legislation include the date and location of the abortion, the patient’s age, marital status, race, education, state or county of residency and history of pregnancies. Also, the reason the patient is seeking an abortion, the method of payment that the patient uses, whether the patient was an employee at the time of the abortion. But the law doesn’t just stipulate that physicians ask questions like those. They’re then required to send the completed questionnaires to the state where the Health Department will use the information from each woman’s form to create an annual abortion report to be posted online. They want to post this stuff online.”

Tell us again, conservatives, about the importance of keeping government out of health care.