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Google, Facebook May Have Actually Learned Something, Will Butt out of Ireland Abortion Referendum

Abortion rights protest sign

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!

We’re nearing on halfway through 2018, and this year has already been a huge one for reproductive rights. States like Missouri and Iowa have passed some of the most extreme anti-abortion laws since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the Supreme Court is slated to make a landmark decision about anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, and later this month, Ireland will participate in a referendum on whether to repeal the country’s ban on abortion.

It’s hard to say what happens next, but here’s what happened this week:

Delaware introduces “fetal pain” legislation

Just one week after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a six-week abortion ban into law, Delaware state legislators have introduced a bill that would ban abortions at or after 20 weeks gestation, citing widely discredited claims that fetuses can feel pain at this period. The bill would criminalize the act of offering abortion care.

Twenty-week abortions are highly rare, and the vast majority of them emerge from complicated situations that are best left between health care providers and pregnant women—including delays to abortion procedures caused by restrictive laws on abortion providers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which represents more than 58,000 OB-GYNs, has weighed in on the issue of fetal pain many a time, and opposes 20-week bans, as well as the concept of “fetal pain.”

Promoting deceitful rhetoric that equates abortion to murder, and encoding this into the law, certainly has a long record of inciting violence, and putting women and clinics’ safety at risk. After all, in other news this week, a new report revealed death threats toward abortion providers have doubled since Trump took office, which I’m sure has nothing to do with his comments about how abortion is “ripping” a baby out nine months into the pregnancy, or that people who have abortions should be punished.

Google and Facebook will stay out of historic Ireland abortion referendum

Later this month, Ireland will vote on whether to legalize abortion, which is currently punishable by up to 14 years in prison for those who have the procedure unless it’s done to save the mother’s life. This week, Facebook and Google announced they would suspend ads related to the referendum in order to not sway the vote, and to respect current Irish law about abortion.

The decision to stay out of the referendum has been widely criticized by anti-choice leaders, who have called it an “attempt to rig the referendum,” but it’s no secret that anti-abortion ad campaigns perpetuate objective falsehoods and are rooted in emotional manipulation. Consider some of the billboards installed in Ohio recently, which claim abortion is racially-driven “population control,” and weaponizing the bodily autonomy of women of color against them. Incidentally, the United States Supreme Court this summer will tackle the issue of deceitful anti-choice campaigns and organizations, which infringe on women’s right to make a informed, uncoerced choices about their bodies.

The referendum vote will take place on May 25, and it’s predicted Irish voters will repeal the abortion ban through a narrow victory margin.

Missouri GOP quietly votes to defund Planned Parenthood

It seems like just yesterday Missouri legislators and the state’s governor successfully enacted a law that bans abortion at or after 15 weeks, only for the law to be held while a district court considers its constitutionality. But anti-choice legislators in the state have kept busy, and on Wednesday voted to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funding. The state budget will deny funding to any group affiliated with Planned Parenthood, as well as any group that offers abortion services, regardless of any of the myriad services health care providers offer that promote wellness and unwanted pregnancy prevention to thousands of low-income women.

Public funding of abortion continues to be highly restricted, despite how abortion is legal, safe, and an absolutely necessary health care service. Denying organizations and health care providers the right to public funding to administer this service is discriminatory and harmful enough as is. Taking it further and denying them funding for the very resources that prevent the need for abortion care leaves women with virtually no options.

According to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Missouri, clinics in the state currently support 7,000 Medicaid patients annually, and that 75 percent of non-Planned Parenthood providers in the state do not offer long-acting reversible birth control methods, while 49 percent of non-Planned Parenthood providers do not offer birth control and pap tests.

Now that the budget has passed the state legislature, it goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, the same man who signed off on the 15-week ban. Of course, all is not necessarily lost. In recent years, the defunding of Planned Parenthood in states across the country has made it to many federal courts. One ruled earlier this year that Ohio’s defunding of the women’s health organization was discriminatory and unconstitutional, so there’s some hope.

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

(image: Rena Schild /

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