It’s not exactly new that conservative policymakers hope to use (cue scary music) big government to regulate women’s reproductive choices. What is new, however, is the creativity some of these policymakers use to achieve their preferred ends.
Republicans, at least for now, know they can’t simply pass legislation prohibiting women from terminating their pregnancies. That leaves them in the position of looking for ways around the law in order to reach the same goal. As Kate Sheppard explained yesterday, Kansas, where far-right Republicans dominate throughout the state government, has figured out a way to effectively ban abortion by making it impossible for the state’s last three abortion clinics to keep their doors open.
The trick is to use red tape and burdensome government regulations, imposing them on health care delivery and private enterprise. “But wait,” you say, “don’t Republicans hate using red tape and burdensome government regulations, imposing them on health care delivery and private enterprise?” As Rachel Maddow explained last night, these principles only apply capriciously.
According to the new law created by the Republican-dominated state legislatures and Gov. Sam Brownback (R), there are now extremely onerous new licensing rules for all abortion clinics in the state. Kansas’ Republican health secretary is now empower to enforce these rules and shut down any facility that fails to fully comply.
What kind of rules are we talking about? These private facilities are now being told “how many rooms they have to have, how many square feet those rooms have to be, and what those rooms have to be used for. There has to be, for example, 80 square foot patient interview room, 80 square foot per patient recovery room. There’s new regulation on the type and size and number of janitorial closets these clinics are required to have. Also, the number and location of bath rooms — new regulations for the kind of lighting in each room, and what kind of emergency exits they are required to have.”
These are all new regulations, created by right-wing policymakers. What’s more, the clinics were notified of the regulatory changes on Monday, then told inspections could begin on Wednesday. In other words, even if the clinic wanted to take steps to comply with the new red tape, they’d have 48 hours to make structural and architectural changes to their facilities. And if state officials find that a clinic has the wrong size janitorial closet, for example, the clinic can be shut down.
I’d note, just as an aside, that it’s hard not to wonder how much better of the nation would be if Republicans cared half as much about job creation as they do about blocking women from exercising their reproductive rights.