Thursday, October 08, 2009

A New Sex Offender Site

Oklahoma has a new law which requires all abortions to be listed on a public website:

The law (which you can look at here — it's HR 1595) mandates that a 34-item questionnaire be filled out by abortion providers for each procedure. The questionnaire doesn't include the woman's name or "any information specifically identifying the patient," but it does ask for age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed, information which opponents of the bill argue would be enough to identify a woman in a small town. The questionnaire also asks about the mother's reason for the abortion, her method of payment, and even what type of insurance she has, as well as whether the fetus received anaesthetic and whether there was "an infant born alive as a result of the abortion."

The required information astonishingly contains nothing about the man who caused the pregnancy, but is probably sufficient for finding the identity of any woman in a smallish town. And that is its real purpose. That, and the idea of making abortions more and more cumbersome for the physicians to perform.

As Lynn Harris writes on Broadsheet:

It isn't unique for a state to post health data on its Web site. However, Oklahoma's requirements are by far the most extensive as such. The law's supporters claim they want this information to be made public so it can be used for "academic research," but according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, its collection method makes it useless for that purpose. (If a woman sees more than one doctor concerning her abortion -- primary care and abortion provider, say -- the data, collected each visit, will appear to represent more than one patient.)

The website really is about shaming the sluts. But it could also be used for making threats at women, including those with mistaken identities. Let's hope that the legal challenge to HR 1595 succeeds.