A Tough Year Ahead For Abortion Rights

Crossposted on Amplify, as part of the 2011 Roe V. Wade Blog-A-Thon

Today, January 22nd, is the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in the United States. Today we have a lot to be thankful for, and we also have to brace for a tough fight ahead. Republican control of many state legislatures means we could see the most anti-choice legislation passed in decades.

Looking at the current state of abortion laws all over the world, there is a lot to be thankful for in living in the United States. The Roe V. Wade decision has done so much to protect safe, legal abortion in the United States, helping protect the lives of countless women. I am thankful that I live in a country where a majority of women have access to safe, confidential, legal abortion services. I am also thankful that abortion rights have become an issue men are involved with as well. It takes two people to bring a child into the world, and men should also be concerned with government intrusion on a women’s right to choose. I know that if I am in a situation where I get a girl pregnant, since I am not yet ready to be a father, she will have the option to choose an abortion, and that this choice will not involve her risking her life.

There is a tough fight ahead. A result of the mid-term elections, more states than ever have anti-choice majorities. 29 governors are now considered to be solidly anti-abortion, compared with 21 last year. In 15 states, compared with 10 last year, both the legislature and the governor are anti-abortion.

“This is worrisome because the governors have been the firewall, they’ve vetoed a lot of bad anti-choice legislation,” said Ted Miller, a spokesman for Naral Pro-Choice America. (NYT)
The New York Times reports that anti-choice lawmakers are focused on the folliwng issues:
-Preventing indirect public financing for abortions, at the national level.

-Pushing to make abortion illegal after just 20 weeks, instead of 24-26 weeks. Measures of this sort are expected in Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. This legislation is based on a disputed and yet he unproven claim that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.

-Requiring women to view ultrasounds during an abortion procedure. Oklahoma last year adopted a requirement that doctors or technicians perform the procedure with the screen visible to the woman, and explain in detail what she is seeing (New York Times.) In Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming, as well as other states, there are efforts to pass similar legislation.

-Banning insurance companies in the new insurance exchanges from offering abortion coverage.

Lawmakers are elected to represent the people, not force through ideological legislation aimed at controlling women’s bodies. The recent election was mostly about economic issues and the role of government. Republicans were voted in mostly over worries about the economy, not because of their stance on social issues, and they did not receive a mandate for sweeping new social measures. “This last election was not about these issues at all,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We now are concerned about a real overreaching by some state legislators and governors that will make it very difficult for women to access reproductive health care.” (New York Times)

Thankfully, a new generation of activists is committed to standing up for reproductive justice here in the United States and across the globe. Do you live in one of these states mentioned, or in a state that has seen large Republican gains? Be prepared to take action and fight these new proposals.

Check out Amplify’s Roe V. Wade Blogathon. This blogathon is a time to tell our stories — of activism, friendship, and shared purpose — and reaffirm our desire for a society that trusts and supports women's access to safe, legal abortion care without stigma, persecution, or judgment.

Dan Jubelirer is a 2010 Netroots Fellow at Amplify, a youth-driven community dedicated to promoting sexual health and reproductive justice.



Thanks for cross posting this.