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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.