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John Oliver Expounds Upon Abortion Law Antics Happening Right Now

On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver expounded upon the ridiculous set of abortion laws we currently have in place in America today. His attempts to sort through the political bull to get to the heart of the matter are, as Last Week Tonight monologues go, actually fairly somber. There are definite laughs peppered throughout but his analysis and presentation of evidence absolutely hit hard in more than a few places.

Oliver began by bringing up this recent story of how lawmakers are trying to pass regulations that essentially disqualify existing abortion centers in abortion center-starved areas. It works like this: they’re forcing abortion centers to maintain the same standards as surgical centers and they’re making the doctors practicing at abortion centers also have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The former would impose regulations that have absolutely no use in an abortion clinic and would be impossible to fix or adjust in existing clinics. For example: it requires hallways in surgical centers to be eight feet wide. As Oliver explains, this is to facilitate two gurneys passing side by side in a hallway. Makes sense if you’re a surgical center. But in an abortion clinic, where most abortions happen within the first two trimesters, a gurney is not needed, thus eliminating the actual need for the rule. But if these conservative lawmakers have their way, that’s what centers and clinics will need to stay in operation.

As for the admitting privileges? According to the show’s research, abortions have been found to be less fatal than routine colonoscopies. That means you’re more likely to die from a colonoscopy than you are from an abortion. But requiring doctors to have admitting privileges is “protecting women’s health,” as all these conservative lawmakers would have you believe.

The entire 16 minute segment is 100% worth a watch, and while it’s definitely troubling, it’s important for us–especially those of us who believe that abortion should be legal–to know what these doctors and clinics are up against. It’s also important for us to know what the experience is like for women seeking an abortion as of right now.

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.