I feel like I’ve stepped into a time warp, to a time when women had to struggle to get abortions. When women couldn’t afford to have them. When women don’t have complete control over their bodies. Sadly, I’m talking about 2011. Sadly, I’m not talking about the past; I’m talking about abortion in 2011. Legislators, particularly at the state level, have launched an unprecedented barrage of anti-choice legislation.
No matter how many times I’ve written about abortion and anti-abortion legislation at the state and federal levels, I’m not sure some people fully grasp and comprehend the severity of the situation. As you may have seen, one of the most depressing graphs made its way around the internet this past Thursday. Created by the Guttmacher Institute, it shows the massive increase in state’s restrictions of abortion coverage.
Yesterday, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the latest anti-abortion legislation. In North Dakota, they recently passed a law (HB 1297), which goes into effect in August,“placing new and unnecessary restrictions on the safe and common use of FDA-approved drugs to induce first-trimester abortions,” basically banning doctors from prescribing medication abortion. This law mimics a law passed in Ohio which outright bans mifepristone (RU-486), which Planned Parenthood unsuccessfully tried to overturn.
In Kansas, 3 clinics were brought to the brink of shutting down due to outrageous proposed legislation requiring clinics to institute all sorts of extreme and inane requirements such as mandating room size, required supplies and even the temperature. Luckily, a federal judge intervened and blocked this asshat regulation. And of course these recent offensive measures merely comprise the tip of the iceberg.
State governments have employed a number of loathsome tactics undermining abortion access and coverage, including counseling and waiting periods (Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas), gestational bans which ban abortion after 20 weeks [including Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio (UPDATED on 7/20/11) and Oklahoma], banning abortion coverage in new insurance plans even through private insurance in some states (Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah), banning medication abortion and the “heartbeat bill” in Ohio which already passed the House.
As Chloe Angyal at Feministing reported, even the NY Times editorial board commented on the massive number of anti-choice tactics and cases where federal judges have stepped in to block these attacks on healthcare. In addition to the nonsense in Kansas, federal judges also blocked a measure in Indiana that barred the usage of Medicaid funds at Planned Parenthood clinics and a mandatory waiting bill in South Dakota.
So who are the people getting abortions? Earlier this year, the Guttmacher Institute created a video answering that very question. In the U.S., 1 out of 3 women will have an abortion by age 35. Most of those women (58%) are in their 20s, not their teens as many people assume. 6 in 10 women who have an abortion already have a child. In 2008, more than 4 in 10 women who had abortions earned incomes below the federal poverty line. While white women have more abortions (36%), “women of color are disproportionately likely to have an abortion” as African-American women and Latinas have higher rates of unintended pregnancies due to a lack of jobs, affordable healthcare, education and contraception. But no matter who’s obtaining them, abortion IS healthcare. It’s a routine medical procedure that every person should have the means and ability to access.
John Boehner and his conservative cronies have preached jobs, jobs, jobs; they care about jobs; jobs is their number one priority. But that’s the biggest bunch of bullshit I ever heard. If they truly cared about jobs, they would be creating jobs bills rather than attacking abortion. If legislators cared about the economy, they would support unemployment benefits, which Robert H. Frank, an Economics Professor at Cornell, stated is “one of the most effective methods” to stimulate the economy on the Rachel Maddow Show. So why have I veered off topic to discuss the economy? Because I want to show that the conservatives at the federal and state levels don’t give two shits about creating jobs. Nope, what do they care about? Invading your uterus. But conservatives won’t stop there. They also want to punish your sexuality by removing funding for family planning, sex ed, condoms…basically anything related to sex and reproductive health.
Never before in history have we seen such an onslaught of anti-choice legislation. A couple of years ago, my mom said to me, “Why are you so worried about protecting abortion? They’ll never overturn Roe v. Wade.” She may be right; Roe v. Wade might never be overturned. But that doesn’t mean anti-choice legislators aren’t working their asses off trying to undermine abortion and abortion coverage, stripping people of their rights, every step of the way.