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This Week Really Showed How the Anti-Abortion Debate Is About Power and Control

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

Since the dawn of time, it’s always been abundantly clear that, at the heart of conservative opposition to abortion rights, is conservative opposition to women having sex without the purpose of having children. But if events this week have taught us anything, it’s that the debate is also fundamentally rooted in power and control.

Here’s a recap of what you might have missed:

Conservative Leaders in Alabama Criticize 12-Year-Old Rape Victim for Seeking an Abortion

Last week, we saw a 12-year-old rape victim, who was impregnated by her rapist, granted judicial bypass to have an abortion without the consent of her abusive mother.

Now, Win Johnson, the conservative legal director for the Administrative Office of Courts under former Chief Justice Roy Moore, and Lorie Mullins, executive director of COPE Pregnancy Center in Montgomery, are speaking out to tell the child not to “rob [herself] of [her] future” and protest that there’s no way the 12 year old is mature enough to make the decision to have an abortion.

“She probably has trouble deciding what shirt to wear to school,” Mullins said at a Wednesday news conference, although the young woman’s family situation, as reported on by AL.com, suggests fashion choices are probably the least of her worries.

In either case, it’s odd, then, that they somehow figure she isn’t mature enough to make a choice about her body, but is mature enough to go through nine months of pregnancy, give birth, and become a mother. Arguably the most disturbing part of all is the parallel between the young woman’s rapist denying her control over her body and conservative attempts to deny her that control, yet again.

In case you thought, “Well, maybe abortion opponents just hate sexually active adult women,” their treatment of this adolescent rape victim suggests otherwise.

Massachusetts Moves to Ban Public Funding for Abortion

Just weeks after the state of Oregon moved to make abortion covered under insurance plans, Massachusetts, one of 17 states to offer public funding for abortion, this week has begun moving towards banning public funding for the procedure.

From a Tuesday report in the Boston Globe:

“Anti-abortion activists are now trying to change that, launching a petition drive to change the state Constitution, which—the state’s high court ruled in 1981—grants women on Medicaid the right to a state-funded abortion.

If their effort proves to be successful, it would return a thorny political debate long silenced by the judiciary to the legislative arena, where activists could then try to pressure their representatives to cut off public funding.”

Currently, under federal law, federal funding cannot pay for abortion except in cases of rape and incest. The Hyde Amendment, which made that law, starkly demonstrates how abortion opponents use socioeconomics as a mechanism of control to deny poor women of color bodily autonomy.

But handfuls of states across the country, including California and Oregon, offer state funding to help low-income women access the procedure. Massachusetts is a strong site for abortion rights advocacy, and the petition will be hotly contested by advocates but is disappointing nonetheless.

Wisconsin GOP is Trying to Ban OB-GYN Residents From Learning How to Perform Abortions

As of this week, the Wisconsin GOP has its sights set on erasing abortion access for future generations, with a bill that will ban public schools from teaching OB-GYN residents how to perform abortion, despite how the Council for Graduate Medical Education explicitly states OB-GYN training programs must provide training for abortion procedures.

Republican state Rep. Andre Jacque, the bill’s author, believes that teaching abortion at public universities is the same thing as using state dollars to pay for abortion. You know, even though a poor woman who shows up to a clinic and can’t afford the procedure can’t expect any help from the Wisconsin government. And in either case, whether or not you think abortion should receive federal funding, the procedure is legal in the United States, and there’s no way medical residents should be banned from learning how to perform a legal procedure.

Jacque says residents who want to learn how to perform abortions can still magically somehow find a way to learn without the help of the public university they’re serving their residencies at, and despite his sweet, sweet reassurances, if the bill goes through, the state’s shortage in OB-GYNs will likely worsen.

Abortion opponents tend to harp on and on about how abortion is a wildly unsafe procedure, despite research that’s proven it’s safer than childbirth and colonoscopies, but banning OB-GYN residents from learning how to safely perform the procedure isn’t going to help anyone—least of all women.

Texas Faces Lawsuit Over Dilation and Evacuation Ban

In June, the state of Texas passed SB8, a bill banning dilation and evacuation procedures, into law. Since the dilation and evacuation procedure is the safest method to terminate second-trimester pregnancies, SB8 effectively bans second-trimester abortions, or abortions after just 12 weeks of pregnancies.

On Thursday, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood announced they’re suing over SB8 before it takes effect come September. Whole Women’s Health, an abortion provider in the state of Texas, is, yet again, a leading plaintiff in the case.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated in a news release that Texas legislators “have once again compromised the health and safety of the women they were elected to represent” to satisfy abortion opponents.

Meanwhile, bills similar to SB8 have been stopped in Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Chile Senate Votes to Ease Anti-Abortion Rules

Amidst all the dark, abortion-related news in the United States comes a grain of hope abroad in Chile, where this week, on Wednesday, the country’s Senate voted to ease anti-abortion rules.

According to Human Rights Watch, Chile, which notoriously had some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, will decriminalize abortion under three circumstances: If the life of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, if the pregnancy is the result of rape, and if the fetus suffers severe conditions not compatible with life outside of the womb.

Granted, this new law will do nothing for poor women who can’t afford to have babies, or women who simply don’t want to have children and shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to justify this personal decision. But it will almost certainly help reduce the country’s maternal mortality rates, and that ought to be celebrated.

(image: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

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