In 2011, an Idaho woman named Jennie Linn McCormack had an abortion using the medical abortion pill RU-486 which she had purchased online. Not long after, the police were knocking on her door and pressing felony charges against her. The reason was due to a 1972 law which makes it illegal for a woman to perform her own abortion. The law is archaic in that it predates Roe v. Wade, not to mention the RU-486 drug.
McCormack challenged the charges in court and won. Now, the state of Idaho is being ordered to pay $376,000 in McCormack’s attorney fees.
This case is just one example of states spending extraordinary sums to defend anti-abortion laws. Idaho has racked up a bill of over $1 billion since 2000 to defend their abortion restrictions. And Idaho is hardly alone in the matter. As Think Progress points out, South Dakota has spent $378,000 since 2012 to defend a 2005 anti-abortion restriction. Kansas spent $769,000 in the period from 2011 to June 2013 – and the amount is likely to increase. Both North Dakota and Arkansas are preparing to battle their new anti-abortion laws and are allotting funds to do so.
It is angering enough that these states are spending exuberant amounts of taxpayer money to restrict abortion access. It is even more angering when you hear that the states also happen to be suffering from budget shortfalls. They senselessly spend much-needed money while schools face cuts, arts programs are slashed, and social programs like Meals and Wheels are reduced.
There is no excuse for the states spending so much money. Acting under the influence of political pressure and not in the interest of their constituents, they pass anti-abortion laws which they know are unconstitutional. Then they spend money defending laws which should never have been passed in the first place.
This goes to show that the negative effect of anti-abortion laws is much more far-reaching than we thought. It isn’t just the women who are being denied access who get harmed. Nor is it just the families of these women who are harmed. We are being denied social services and education for our children because we have to pick up the tab for governors who are adamant about trampling constitutionally-guaranteed reproductive health rights.