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Republicans Pick Forcing Women to Give Birth as Their Winning Issue for the Midterm Elections

Imagine this being your best strategy.

Handmaids Tale protestors at Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court Confirmation hearing

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!

With just weeks to go before midterm elections could change the face of American politics, Republicans have a problem: Trump’s low approval ratings, Americans’ disdain for alleged serial sexual abuser and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (whom Republicans stay trying to ram down our throats, nonetheless), and sweeping momentum among the Democratic base pose a powerful threat to the Republican majority in Congress, forcing the GOP to get creative about mobilizing their own base. And according to Politico, that mobilization strategy centers around—you guessed it!—abortion.

Politico reports that Republicans are attacking abortion rights “with new urgency” this year in their ground game and canvassing, focused in states like Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, and North Dakota. Trump’s promise, throughout 2016, to appoint anti-choice judges on every level of the judicial system has been widely regarded as instrumental to his victory and ability to score key constituencies of voters who were otherwise disgusted by his crassness and personality. In other words, the Republican Party has really come to see forcing women to be pregnant and give birth without their consent as a winning issue.

Whether or not this strategy will work again remains to be seen in just over amonth, but one thing’s for certain: We can’t afford more of Trump’s anti-choice, extremist judges being pushed through. This November, we have to vote for Senators who will push back on the Party’s anti-women agenda.

A state with some of the most liberal abortion laws could vote to take a major step backwards

In Oregon, a state that just last year enacted a law to cover costs of abortion and other reproductive health care, voters will vote on whether to ban public funding of abortion on Nov. 6, and according to a new report from this week, the vote could be more competitive than you’d think.

We’ve heard the argument underlying Measure 106 before—that abortion isn’t being banned, but the ban would merely protect the consciences of Christians and opponents of abortion rights, who are, obviously, the most oppressed group in America.

“This isn’t going to ban abortions,” Nichole Bentz, the chief spokeswoman of the Yes on Measure 106 campaign, has said. “So, if you want to get an abortion, you can still choose to have one. We’re just mostly talking about who is paying for one.”

You’ll note that a key demographic of people who seek abortion care was excluded from Bentz’s pitch: low-income women, women without health insurance, and disproportionately, women of color. While there are about 13 states as of 2018 that offer public assistance for abortion costs, under a federal law called the Hyde amendment, federal tax dollars can’t pay for abortion.

This is, of course, despite how people who may oppose exorbitant military funding or other government spending that results in the deaths of born, living humans, aren’t accorded the same level of political coddling. Since the 1976 passage of Hyde, the personal comfort of a select group of Americans has taken precedence over the livelihood, autonomy, and human rights of low-income women.

That Measure 106 even made it to the ballot is alarming, especially in a state like Oregon, which has been a leader in protecting and expanding reproductive rights for years. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, it goes to show that we can’t take anything for granted.

Planned Parenthood moves to settle Iowa abortion ban without trial

Months after an injunction was placed on an Iowa law that would ban abortion at about six weeks (before most women even realize they’re pregnant), Planned Parenthood this week filed a motion to rule on the law without a trial, after the Iowa supreme court already ruled that it was unconstitutional.

According to Planned Parenthood’s lawyers, “given that the Iowa Constitution bars the state from imposing delay on women seeking an abortion, it plainly bars the state from prohibiting pre-viability abortions altogether.” And banning abortion before many women can realize they’re pregnant is certainly prior to viability. In essence, the law is ban on abortion as a whole.

While the judge has not yet responded to Planned Parenthood’s request, it seems worth offering a reminder of how much states that vigorously defend their obviously unconstitutional, obviously dangerous, draconian abortion laws spend just to do so. That’s state funding that could have paid for health care or support for children and low-income families, or contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, the works. As of this summer, Louisiana spent $1 million on defending anti-abortion laws since 2014, while Texas spent more than $786,000 defending one law and was charged millions in legal fees by the opposing pro-choice lawyers.

For all the “fiscally conservative” arguments against public funding for abortion, birth control, and other reproductive health care, defending unconstitutional abortion laws in court hasn’t exactly been a financial boon to states.

Some good news: Birth control pills are reducing ovarian cancer risk

For all the conservative lore about how hormonal birth control can cause long-term infertility and a range of other health detriments, a new study shows one in five women who use birth control pills see a reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer. Sure, birth control pills aren’t always super pleasant for women, who can experience nausea, severe mood swings, and other symptoms while men shoulder none of this burden, but a medical study to rebut fear-mongering, anti-choice narratives about birth control is always welcome. At this point, with all that’s happening in the world, we’ll frankly take whatever good news related to women’s health that we can.

The study, which found that “hormonal contraception use prevented an estimated 21 percent of ovarian cancers in the study population,” noted that birth control with reduced estrogen and “new progestones” was most effective in reducing ovarian cancer risk.

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

(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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