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Donald Trump Reportedly About to Enact Abortion “Gag Rule” Inside the United States

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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!

May is mental health awareness month, and over the past few weeks, women who use hormonal birth control have been coming forward to talk about how it’s affected their mental health. Depression and mood changes are known potential side effects of the pill, and they’ve long been accepted without question. But with side effect-free male birth control making serious progress in clinical studies, maybe it’s time for us to finally talk about why women are the ones who must shoulder the burden of not only pregnancy prevention, but also all of the side effects that can go with it.

Don’t get me wrong, access to birth control is absolutely critical, but women who are affected by depression, mood instability, and anxiety upon taking it deserve better options. The issue of women’s pain and experiences not being taken seriously by medical professionals is systemic, dangerous, and has always related to reproductive justice.

Trump administration reportedly on the verge of announcing domestic “gag rule”

Following earlier reports that Donald Trump was weighing options on how to get away with defunding Planned Parenthood, despite that it’s already illegal for clinics to use federal funding for abortion services, the administration is reportedly poised to apply the “global gag rule” policy within the United States. If enacted domestically, the policy—used outside U.S. borders by previous Republican administrations and already reinstated by Trump in that regard—would bar healthcare providers that receive federal funding from even discussing abortion with women.

Of course, it’s a cynical attempt to make clinics choose between funds that help provide necessary healthcare services to women, especially those most in need of assistance, and providing perfectly legal abortion procedures.

Iowa attorney general refuses to defend heartbeat abortion ban

Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a ban on abortion after the fetus develops a heartbeat, which can happen as early as six weeks, with few exceptions. The law is so controversial because many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant prior to the six-week point, and some abortion providers don’t offer abortion care prior to this point in the pregnancy either.

Shortly after Reynolds signed the bill, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit citing the unconstitutionality of the law, which is essentially a ban on abortion and a dangerous, authoritarian attack on women’s bodily autonomy. But now, as the state heads to court over the heartbeat ban, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced this week that he had “disqualified” himself from representing Iowa in the lawsuit, Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson wrote in a statement: “The disqualification is based on the Attorney General’s determination that he could not zealously assert the state’s position because of his core belief that the statute, if upheld, would undermine rights and protections for women.”

The state will now be defended pro-bono by the notorious conservative group, The Thomas More Society, which has a long record of siding with and suppoting anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ groups.

Miller is a Democrat who has been serving as attorney general since 1978.

Louisiana poised to ban abortion at 15 weeks

On Wednesday, Louisiana’s state House and Senate passed a bill that would ban abortion at or after 15 weeks, which would be one of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who has previously expressed his intent to sign the bill into law.

A similar law in Missouri is currently being considered in federal court, and would only go into effect in Louisiana if it is upheld in court.

What supporters of bills like this fail to note is that most (that is, roughly 90 percent) abortions take place in the first trimester; those who seek late-term abortions often do so due to health complications or special circumstances, which makes bans on late-term abortion uniquely cruel and dangerous. And, as previously noted, Edwards’ identification as a Democrat and his willingness to support the bill should sound a few alarms for the Democratic Party, especially as it grapples with its stance on anti-choice Democrats. The right to choose and access abortion affects every aspect of women’s lives, and as it becomes increasingly restricted, the Party’s continued support for those who oppose the procedure poses a serious threat to women’s health and rights.

The president of the Center for Reproductive Rights has called the bill a “flat-out violation of Roe v. Wade,” and it’s safe to say that if and when Edwards signs the bill, it won’t go unchallenged.

Court upholds ruling against anti-choice activists behind 2015 Planned Parenthood videos

It’s been three years since the Center for Medical Progress released illegally obtained and highly fabricated videos appearing to depict Planned Parenthood workers “selling baby parts.” The women’s health organization subsequently clarified that it donates fetal tissue for medical experimentation, a practice that has historically been supported by Republican politicians, and one that yielded the vaccine for polio. The sudden outrage directed at Planned Parenthood reflected abortion opponents’ reliance on spreading what we now call “fake news” to make political gains. The videos yielded greater Congressional scrutiny of the organization, as well as an uptick in threats and violence directed at clinics.

Since the videos were released, the activists behind it were charged with 15 felonies. And on Wednesday, a US appeals court refused to dismiss Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress. The group’s attorney has said this ruling will not affect the center. But in light of the group’s work in perpetuating lies which have had vast effects on women’s health and the political landscape around reproductive rights, the court’s decision to hold the group accountable marks a critical step toward making things right.

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

(image: Daniel X O’Neil on Flickr)

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