It’s Dangerous How Far Right the “Moderate” Position on Abortion Has Been Pulled
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!
All in the space of a week, the first indictments of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign were handed down, Rick Perry blessed us all with his hot take on how to end sexual assault (it involves fossil fuels, obviously), and even more infuriating sexual misconduct allegations against the biggest names in Hollywood rolled out.
In essence, this week was a lot.
But just in case you managed to save a pinch of space in your brain for other news stories, here’s what happened this week in reproductive justice. As the right wing moves further and further towards the far right, the perceived “centrist” or “moderate” position keeps moving right along with it, and that’s bad for everyone.
“Moderate” John Kasich thinks we all need to take a “chill pill” on abortion
In an interview published in New York Magazine Tuesday, Ohio Gov. and purported “moderate” John Kasich announced he’s already preparing to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election. But that wasn’t even the most interesting aspect of the interview—Kasich also talked abortion, and his hot take on this deeply divisive and sometimes life-or-death issue is that we all ought to “take a chill pill.”
Of course, this is the reality of the situation around abortion rights—a grave climate that Kasich’s own policies, which include an extreme and unconstitutional ban on 20-week abortions and a pledge to nominate only anti-choice judges: The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world, a rate that’s increased by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014.
The last five years have accounted for more than one quarter of all abortion restrictions passed across the country since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, according to Guttmacher Institute. And presently, about 90 percent of all U.S. counties lack an abortion provider, burdening women with the costs of travel and lodging to have what is already an expensive procedure certainly doesn’t help.
As a whole, Kasich just seems really confused about why we’re all arguing so bitterly about abortion—why can’t we all just reach some sort of compromise about whether the government should be allowed to force women to give birth? Kasich’s personal stance is that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape and incest, or, in essence, that rape is wrong but reproductive coercion is not—it’s easy for him to shrug and “take a chill pill” as his view is shared with most lawmakers with decision-making power over women, but not most of the population.
At the end of the day, it’s all well and good for lawmakers to “agree to disagree” with the female constituents they’re screwing over, but in order for women to “agree to disagree” with their lawmakers about abortion, this would require the passive forfeiture of their most basic human rights. This is arguably the very disproportionate power dynamic and flaw of political underrepresentation that defines the nature of abortion policy-making.
Wisconsin prepares to vote on fun issues like guns and abortion
In addition to a bill that would make Wisconsin a concealed carry state, next week on Thursday, the Wisconsin assembly will take up A.B. 128, a bill that would prevent state workers from receiving health insurance plans covering abortions. In essence, the bill is saying that if you’re a low-income woman seeking crucial health care in a state that’s already strapped for abortion providers, good luck.
The state senate will also vote on bills to limit research on fetal tissue from abortions, the same method through which a life-saving cure for polio was discovered decades ago—yet another example of the “pro-life” label’s dangerous irony.
Another measure the state senate will vote on will decide if University of Wisconsin residents are able to access training for providing abortions. The bill, which is justified by the fact that state law prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion, ignores a few simple realities—for starters, that abortion is legal and there’s no reason why medical professionals and OB-GYNS shouldn’t be allowed to learn how to provide it, and further, that the Council for Graduate Medical Education states that OB-GYN training must “provide training or access to training the provision of abortions, and this must be part of the planned curriculum.”
The bill is particularly dangerous as it ignores the simple reality that abortions can be necessary to save women’s lives, and women will be the ones to suffer the consequences of a new generation of doctors lacking this training. Research has shown that states with higher restrictions on and fewer abortion providers have higher maternal mortality rates. In the state of Wisconsin, there are only two abortion clinics remaining as of 2016.
Congress hosts hearing on 6-week abortion ban
Did someone say, “Let’s humanize unborn fetuses at the expense of living women’s rights”? Because if so, Congress heard you! Just weeks after passing a 20-week abortion ban rooted in junk science about “fetal pain,” on Wednesday, Congress held a hearing on H.R. 490, the “Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017.” The proposed bill would make it a federal crime to perform abortions “without determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat,” “without informing the mother of the results,” or “after determining that a fetus has a detectable heartbeat.”
In essence, H.R. 490 would ban abortion at just six weeks. In many cases, this is before women even realize they’re pregnant, and so the bill could serve to sweepingly ban safe, legal abortion. It’s no alarmist exaggeration to say that people will literally die as a result of the bill, if implemented.
On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King took to the podium to narrate a sonogram, which was ironically given a seat at the hearing instead of everyday women or, as abortion rights activist Renee Bracey Sherman pointed out, women who have actually had abortions. The metaphor was meant to add an extra dose of pathos to a cause that is already fueled solely by emotional manipulation, but really just exposed the extent to which the GOP values fetuses over real women.
— Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman) November 1, 2017
It’s unclear how this law would be enforced, and if and how women and doctors would be punished if in violation, but hopefully, the bill will be stopped before we have to worry about this.
The Trump administration is being sued for birth control rollback
After Trump’s Health and Human Services Department rolled back the Obama-era contraceptive mandate, through which over 62 million women were able to access birth control coverage, women and activists have been fighting back. The new policy allows anyone who has any reservation—religious or otherwise—about birth control coverage, a.k.a. women having sex for purposes other than procreation, to deny women access to crucial health care. It’s worth noting this health care can be unaffordable without insurance—especially long-term, more reliable forms of contraception like IUDs.
It’s basically a free pass for any misogynist in a position of power to discriminate against female subordinates because religious freedom, or something.
Now, the same week that the University of Notre Dame announced it will cancel all birth control coverage for students and employees beginning next year, five women, including one Notre Dame student, are suing the Trump administration for this policy reversal. According to their complaint, the policy “jeopardize[s] the health, economic security, and equality of over 62 million women who currently have coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and related education and counseling without out-of-pocket costs.”
Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!
(image: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)
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