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Anti-Abortion Extremist Judge Also Hates Birth Control, Says Planned Parenthood “Kills Over 150,000 Females a Year”

Woman holding sign that says, "Ugh, where do I even start?"

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!

News about abortion dominated the news cycle this week, from Cardi B candidly talking about personally considering abortion—and ultimately deciding against it—to a uniquely invasive anti-abortion bill making progress in Arizona. And then, of course, there was also the unsettling confirmation hearing of a new federal judge nominee who’s claimed Planned Parenthood “kills 150,000 females” annually.

And yet, perhaps Cardi B’s comments about abortion in an interview this week were the most telling. She spoke as candidly about abortion as she does everything, shrugging off the stigma and reminding us all that, at its core, supporting abortion rights is about supporting the right of all women to make personal decisions. The rap sensation ultimately decided to go through with her pregnancy, but because she rejected the idea that motherhood must hold women back or end careers, rather than out of opposition to the procedure. She also noted that economic standing is a big part of the decision to terminate a pregnancy or carry to term.

“I see a lot of women online like, ‘I feel sorry for you. Your career is over,’” she said. “And it’s like …Why do I gotta choose a career or a baby? Why can’t I have both? I want both.”

But unfortunately, her interview was, in many ways, the bright spot of this week’s reproductive rights news. Here’s what else happened this week:

Arizona House passes invasive anti-abortion bill

On Tuesday, Arizona’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would require doctors to ask women seeking abortions why they want the procedure. Doctors will be required to ask if women are seeking abortion care as victims of rape, coercion, or sex trafficking. Pro-choice advocates have since responded by pointing out how the bill is yet another ploy to shame women for seeking health care, and to invade women’s privacy. After all, how many other legal, situational medical services can you name that involve doctors asking you to justify your decision and report your response to the state?

“It reads like something that’s designed to have a chilling effect,” Planned Parenthood of Arizona’s vice president of external affairs, Jodi Liggett, said of the bill. “(That question is) off-putting and shaming to patients, and it’s designed to be. Let’s not have any doubt about that.”

Even without this Republican-backed bill, Arizona already boasts a hostile legislative landscape for abortion access, with mandated state-directed counseling, restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion, required ultrasounds, and others.

Kentucky bans safe second trimester abortion

Also on Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill banning the dilation and evacuation procedure, which effectively equates to banning safe, legal abortion after 11 weeks of pregnancy. Kentucky already has some of the most stringent abortion laws in the country, and during Bevin’s tenure as governor alone, the state has seen the passage of a 20-week abortion ban and an ultrasound requirement, along with the state’s total number of abortion clinics reduced to one.

About 90 percent of all abortions take place within the first trimester, while most late-term abortions take place due to health reasons (for either the mother or the fetus) or due to difficulty accessing the procedure for a variety of reasons—a problem anti-choice activists have worked to exacerbate. Other states like Texas have passed similar bills, but in each case, these laws were challenged in court. Such restrictions are widely opposed not only among pro-choice advocates, but also among health experts like those at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Efforts to ban specific types of procedures limit the ability of physicians to provide women with the medically appropriate care they need, and will likely result in worsened outcomes and increased complications,” the organization said in a statement in 2015 about D&E bans. “Quite simply, these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. That is unacceptable.”

Senate holds confirmation hearing of anti-choice extremist

On Wednesday, the Senate held a confirmation hearing for the latest of President Trump’s nominees for a federal judgeship in Louisiana. Throughout the first year of his presidency, Trump has nominated a slew of uniquely unqualified and extremist people for federal judgeships, but put simply, Wendy Vitter is in many ways something else.

Her record includes suggesting birth control pills could lead to women experiencing “violent deaths,” in a brochure at a right to life conference, and stating that Planned Parenthood “kills over 150,000 females a year” in an interview from 2013.

At her confirmation hearing, Vitter declined to specify her views on Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that made segregation illegal. And although she suggested that she would respect the Roe v. Wade decision, she remains hotly opposed by reproductive rights groups, who perceive her nomination as a threat to abortion and reproductive health care access in Louisiana.

Louisiana is already one of the most hostile states in the country to reproductive rights, and with state laws around abortion regularly being challenged in court, federal judges in the state and their stances on reproductive rights hold grave implications for the living standards of women in the state. In the past year alone, federal judges in Louisiana have made decisions on everything from funding for Planned Parenthood to mandated waiting periods to TRAP laws rampantly shutting down clinics in the state. It seems clear how Vitter would have ruled in each case.

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Avivi Aharon / Shutterstock.com)

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