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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Steve Ahlquist testifies against bills restricting reproductive rights

(image by chensiyuan)
Currently, there are seven bills in the Rhode Island General Assembly that would restrict women's reproductive rights, including one we've written about here on Progressive Charlestown that would require abortion providers to perform fetal ultrasounds and explain the images to patients prior to abortions. Women would not be required to view the images. Abortion providers who fail to give women a chance to see the ultrasound images, however, would risk fines of up to $100,000.

Steve Ahlquist, uncle of Jessica Ahlquist, the 16-year-old student who successfully sued for the removal of a prayer banner from Cranston High School West, gave the following testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee:

My name is Steve Ahlquist, co-founder and president of the Humanists of Rhode Island. I am a lifelong Rhode Island resident and the father of three college-age children, two of them young women.

I am here not to challenge anyone's particular beliefs regarding the rightness or wrongness of abortion. I am of the opinion that each woman must make her own free decisions in this regard. I wish to maximize the freedoms of my children, and want to see them live in a world free of all but the most needed government intrusion.

Therefore it disturbs me to read the text of the seven bills that have been introduced that seek to limit or circumscribe my daughters' reproductive freedoms.

The intrusion of politicians into the privacy of doctor/patient interactions, such as described in bill #7205, smacks of police statism. In the United States I believe in, such intrusions into such painful, private and emotive affairs must only be considered under the most pressing and dire conditions.

There is no such condition now. There is no pressing need to visit this issue, but across the country, moves are being made to undermine fundamental human rights in the area of reproduction. I would suggest that these bills seek only to weaponize a very emotional and private issue, fanning flames best left extinguished or barely smoldering.

Please do not advance these bills. Please do not fan these flames any more. Let women enjoy their self-evident human rights, and keep government out of family planning decisions.

Thank you.


  1. One question that I have never heard a satisfactory answer for regarding this is issue is as follows: Why is it that advocates are adamant that minors be allowed abortion without parental consent when every other medical procedure, to include giving a kid tylenol at school, requires it?

    1. If you're old enough to become a parent, you're surely old enough to consent to an abortion.

  2. Because, you anonymous twit, sometimes the father of the girl's baby is her father. Or brother.

    Or a boy the parents don't approve of. Sometimes pregnant girls get beaten to the point of serious injury or death if they become pregnant.

    This is something just a tad different than getting a Tylenol from the school nurse, but you are probably too much of a fool to understand that.

    IrwinB is right - anonymous posters are cowards and do not deserve to have us provide them with a forum for their spew.

  3. I will rephrase my question which was obviously too difficult for people like Will to understand. If a minor does not need parental consent for an abortion, why is parental consent required for everything else? Rather than offering annecdotal examples which are not the majority of abortions performed, I would really like to know. If minors are old enough to get pregnant and that makes them "responsible," then why not lower the age for lots of other drinking, voting, medical treatment etc...Again, I have never heard a satisfactory answer and am still wondering. It sort of reminds me of the NRA arguing against background checks for handguns...just does not make sense to me on the surface.

    1. I did understand your original question, Anonymous. Without getting into a whole philosophical discussion about it, the age of majority is always culturally based, has changed over time, is in many respects arbitrary, and has never been applied uniformly in all situations. During the Vietnam war, drinking ages were lowered because people felt it was wrong to let soldiers go off and die for our country without being able to legally drink a beer. Then the case was later made that lower drinking ages led to increased highway fatalities and they were raised again. Here in the U.S., you can get a driver's license at 16, whereas in many European countries, you have to be 18.

      As for the specific case of abortion, one of my many beefs with parental notification laws is that they tend to result in later-term abortions being performed. Ultimately, I simply don't care what the reason is that a young woman is unable or willing to get her parents' consent. That's for her to decide. I'm not the one who's going to have to bear the child if she's unable to obtain an abortion.


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