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Alabama has joined neighboring Mississippi as well as Arizona, Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah in passing legislation specifically designed to shut down the state's abortion clinics. The law, if signed by the governor, as it almost certainly will be, would require all abortion clinic physicians to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. Because Alabama, like several other states, depends on doctors who fly in from outside, and hospitals are reluctant to give, or have regulations against giving, non-resident physicians such privileges, the clinics could be forced to close.

Which is exactly the idea. The requirement for abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges is widely viewed as medically unnecessary. But mandating the practice has nothing to do with medical care and everything to do with forced-birther ideology and tactics.

Mississippi was the second state, after Tennessee, to pass such legislation. If implemented, it could close the state's last remaining abortion clinic in Jackson. Mississippi hospitals do not permit out-of-state doctors to obtain admitting privileges. A hearing on revoking that clinic's license to operate will be held on April 18. But the law won't go into effect until a federal court reviews a lawsuit claiming it unfairly restricts women's access to abortion.

One reason the Jackson clinic uses out-of-state physicians is because of the pressure placed on local doctors not to perform abortions. The state has gone so far as to remove a Harvard-educated physician from the state board of public health because he was on call for emergencies for the clinic. A vacancy on that board is likely to be filled by a veteran anti-abortion activist with no medical training.

North Dakota, which also has a single abortion clinic, Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, passed its own admitting-privileges law last month. The director, Tammi Kromenaker, told Wonkblog's Sarah Kliff that she expects the 15-year-old clinic will continue operating because the facility's doctors will obtain the needed privileges. That seems like an optimistic appraisal. But clinic operators have to stay optimistic in an atmosphere of constant political attacks that have been going on for nearly 40 years.

The Tennessee bill mandating that abortion clinic doctors have hospital admitting privileges passed a year ago after provisions were stripped from it that would have mandated doctors performing abortions to be named on-line as well as provide information foes of the bill said could provide information about the identity of women seeking the procedure.

While the forced-birther movement is on a long-term roll, some of its most extreme proposals, like blocking abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be heard (which occurs at six to seven weeks into a pregnancy) and defining human life to begin at conception (thus blocking all abortions), are brazenly unconstitutional and, short of a reversal of Roe v. Wade, will be barred from implementation in any state that passes them. Nonetheless, day after day, legal abortion is becoming, in a majority of states, ever more difficult to obtain, and the women who seek them must jump through added hoops with the passing of each year. None of this has anything to do with women's health and well-being and everything to do with controlling women and their sexuality.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 09:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion, Pro Choice, and Daily Kos.

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