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This Week Put Reproductive Rights in a Dangerous Position

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!

This week, if you’re not angry and afraid, you probably haven’t been paying attention. Amid a continued crisis of separated migrant families and the indefinite incarceration of asylum seekers, things have somehow managed to get worse. That seems to be the theme of this administration and these times—sinking lower and lower, even when we think we’ve already hit rock-bottom.

With the Muslim ban upheld, abortion rights (as well as family planning rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections, and so, so much more) literally on the line, and yet another mass shooting, everyone needs to be rising up and mobilizing, and if you find yourself skeptical about the panic among marginalized groups, now is the time to stop and listen. Frankly, women, LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, immigrants, and all marginalized people are sick of the gaslighting. There’s never a good time to devalue or trivialize the oppression we know we face, but there’s no worse time than this.

This fight for reproductive rights is going to shape generations. It’s going to affect women’s safety, ability to go to school and work, and our most fundamental rights to make private decisions about our bodies without being jailed. We know what society looks like without safe, legal abortion, and we know what’s at stake, but just in case you somehow missed the past week, here’s a rundown of what happened this week:

The Supreme Court protects fake women’s clinics, leaves Roe v. Wade more vulnerable than ever

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that “crisis pregnancy centers”—storefronts that pose as women’s health clinics and then lie to and shame women to steer them away from abortions—have the right to keep doing what they do. NIFLA v. Becerra empowers fake clinics to deny women their full range of reproductive options and their right to informed choice, and it will have disparate consequences for the low-income, disproportionately women of color who are targeted by these clinics, especially in states where required ultrasounds, mandated waiting periods, and lack of abortion clinics make access to abortion difficult and expensive enough as is.

And things only worsened the following day, when Justice Anthony Kennedy, a key swing vote on the court for three decades, announced his retirement. Now that Donald Trump has appointed one eighth of all circuit judges in just 1.5 years, along with a host of radical anti-choice state laws constantly being challenged in courts across the country, it’s terrifying how easily anti-choice federal judges and an anti-choice Supreme Court, fueled by his next nominee, could overturn the precedent of Roe v. Wade and allow states to criminalize abortion.

To be clear, the end of Roe v. Wade would not be the end of abortion—far from it. Banning abortion isn’t about ending the procedure, but controlling and punishing women. Without Roe, (even more) women would be forced to travel out of state to access the procedure or resort to unsafe means. America before Roe, and study after study today, demonstrate that the abortion rate would likely remain the same, but the unsafe abortion rate would almost certainly spike. The consequences and often life-or-death risk factors that go hand-in-hand with restricting abortion could perhaps be dodged by wealthy white women, but they’ll be inescapable for many low-income women and women of color.

So, call your senators and demand that they reject Trump’s anti-choice judicial nominees, and better yet, delay any vote at all, as per Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s own rules. Vote for government representatives who will uphold abortion and other fundamental rights. Support abortion funds. Show up to rallies. Abortion rights are on the chopping block, and we need to fight back in any way we can.

Iowa Supreme Court prepares to rule on mandatory waiting period law

Yes, believe it or not, other things did happen this week. In Iowa, a state that recently enacted a six-week abortion ban that is currently being temporarily blocked by a federal judge, plans to announce, as soon as Friday, whether a law requiring that women wait three days before having an abortion is unconstitutional.

The mandated waiting period law has been put on hold since it was enacted in 2017, and Planned Parenthood and the ACLU promptly filed a lawsuit.

Waiting periods are not only a tactic of shaming women, infantilizing them, and suggesting that they’re incapable of rationally, thoughtfully making their own decisions, but they’re also a direct attack on abortion access and the economic situations of low-income women who live far away from clinics, who often have to miss work and lose income to travel and then wait to have the procedure.

Back in 2015, the Iowa Supreme Court sided with abortion rights advocates in protecting telemedicine abortion. Let’s hope for a similar ruling this time around.

Judge blocks Indiana’s abortion reporting law

Earlier this year, Indiana passed a law requiring medical providers to report patient information to the state government—a law that was transparently about burdening abortion providers, and shaming and attacking the privacy of those who have the procedure. This week, a district judge temporarily blocked this part of the law amid a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on Planned Parenthood’s behalf. However, the judge did not block a part of the law that mandates discriminatory, annual inspections of abortion clinics in the state.

Considering the law focused on connecting abortion to a range of purported complications and health risks, which actually have no proven relationship to the procedure, it’s worth reiterating that abortion is objectively one of the safest medical services out there. There’s no reason for this law except to stigmatize, shame and burden.

Without this injunction, the law would have taken effect this Sunday.

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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