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Unsurprisingly, Immigrant Women Are Suffering in Trump’s America


Handmaids of Handmaid's Tale

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!

In a week that’s seen President Trump try to remove legal immigrants and demand to know why the United States was admitting so many people from “sh-thole” countries in Africa, Haiti and El Salvador, as opposed to the notably very white Norway, there’s an important takeaway here: The president is racist. And much like his crude, degrading language, his policies similarly have racist consequences.

Put simply, Trump is a president unconcerned with the lives of the diverse Americans he serves. That’s why immigrant women are struggling to receive basic health care, and why American women of color are dying of reproductive health-related causes at higher rates than their white counterparts, while the administration’s only actions on the subject will make things worse. Despite Trump’s condescending remarks about other countries, his own is one that’s increasingly come to fail many citizens seeking basic rights and resources.

Trump administration is prohibiting another immigrant from accessing abortion

Over the past few months, mostly on the grounds that non-citizens do not have rights that citizens do, the Trump administration has been fighting to prevent immigrants in custody from having access to abortion. It’s been an ongoing push and pull, and on Thursday, yet another undocumented minor filed a court declaration in the U.S. District Court in Washington claiming she has been seeking an abortion for two weeks, and wants the procedure as soon as possible. The unidentified minor is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has successfully represented three immigrant women seeking abortion care in the last few months prior to this. Despite these victories, a federal court has yet to offer an order that could be applied to similar cases; this time around, the ACLU aims to change this.

The Trump administration’s ongoing battle to force immigrants in federal custody to give birth exemplifies not only his disregard for women’s lives, safety and dignity, but also, the overarching goal of his administration to dehumanize immigrants at every turn—in this case, by stripping them of some of the most fundamental rights anyone in any nation, regardless of whatever legal documents they may have, should be entitled to.

California colleges could provide medication abortion

This Friday, California senators will move to vote on SB 320, a bill that would require public colleges in the state to carry medication abortion. The bill has been a long time in the making, meant to consider how the costs, lost time, and struggle to travel to have the procedure substantially burdens female college students. Students in rural areas are forced to miss class, work, and internships to travel great distances for the procedure, something many female students can’t afford to do.

Naturally, there’s been pushback against this bill even in a state like California, which has substantially more liberal policies around reproductive health care than many other states. And yet, medication abortion, which comes in the form of two pills that terminate a pregnancy at up to 10 weeks, has proven time and again to be perfectly safe. As for affordability, SB 320 was moved out of committee for a vote in the state senate after health and education committees found it viable.

There’s no reason for the bill, which is largely the product of activism from college students across the state, not to pass, but the simple fact is that even in states like California, abortion remains controversial, and all the more so when it comes to bringing it to campuses.

Good and bad news for abortion law in Florida

On Tuesday, a judge in Tallahassee struck down a law that subjected women seeking abortions to a 24-hour mandatory waiting period. Waiting periods ranging from one to three days are common in states where abortion tends to be heavily restricted. Their sole purpose is to shame women, as if they’re children who haven’t thought through their decisions, and can’t be trusted to know what they want and what’s best for them. In other words, they’re degrading and infantilizing, and also useless. Women who have made the decision to have an abortion have their reasons and have already thought about it—24 hours probably aren’t going to change their minds. On top of this, for women who have already had to take off work or travel to have the procedure, an extra day comes with costs and inconvenience.

But at the same time this victory was won, lawmakers in Florida filed a new bill that would all but ban safe, legal second-trimester abortions by prohibiting the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure. Dilation and evacuation, misleadingly called “partial-birth abortion” or “dismemberment” by anti-choice lawmakers and activists, is also the safest method of late-term abortion, commonly sought by women due to health reasons.

Late-term abortion is rare, with only 1.2 percent of abortions occurring at or after 20 weeks, and those who have it often do for reasons related to health complications of the mother or the fetus. Last year, the last time an abortion restriction of this magnitude was introduced in Florida, a similar bill that banned abortion at 20 weeks failed, and hopefully this one will meet the same fate. This ban on the dilation and evacuation procedure poses a significant public health risk, and shows that when it comes to victories for reproductive rights, there’s almost always a push and pull.

(image: Daniel X O’Neill on Flickr)

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

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