Happy new year, pro-choice pals! Whew – 2015 was bruising, wasn’t it? We’ve been linking to some of the best year-end wrapups on our Twitter page, but suffice it to say that 2015 was a pretty lousy year for those who think women ought to to have the right to choose, starting with trumped-up claims that Planned Parenthood was selling “baby body parts” and ending with dozens of new laws making it harder for women and girls to terminate their unplanned pregnancies.
From the perspective of the anti-choice movement, in other words, 2015 was a banner year. In fact, reading the headlines from the anti-choice front lines can be like looking into a Bizarro World where bad news is good, equal rights promote inequality, and social justice is unjust. Check out just a few recent headlines from the fringes of the extremist anti-choice movement, along with the actual stories behind the hype.
The headline, from LifeNews: “Planned Parenthood killed 323,999 babies in abortions in 2014, provided less health care.”
The reality: The number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood clinics declined in 2014, due in part to better access to birth control and in part to anti-choice laws that have led some women with unintended pregnancies to carry those pregnancies to term against their wishes. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood continued to provide cancer screenings, STD testing, and routine medical care to millions of women nationwide despite ongoing efforts in Congress and the states to eliminate funding for the health-care provider; in fact, as NPR reported last year, just 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s funding involves abortion care.
The headline, from Breitbart: “South Carolina Dem equates late-term abortion to erectile dysfunction.”
The reality: A Democratic state legislator in South Carolina has proposed somewhat tongue-in-cheek legislation that would impose a 24-hour waiting period on Viagra prescriptions and go through counseling and medical and psychological tests before obtaining the erection-enhancing drug. South Carolina requires pregnant women to wait 24 hours and endure lectures, tests, and other requirements before they can obtain an abortion, and is about to consider a bill that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks.
The headline, from LifeNews: “Texas puts strong rules in place to stop abortions on teens without their parents knowing.”
The reality: The Texas Legislature just imposed new rules on minors seeking abortion services that make it even harder for young women to obtain a “judicial bypass,” which allows people under 18 to get abortions without asking their parents’ permission. Judicial bypasses are given in cases where notifying a young woman’s parent’s would place her in harm’s way, and are a last resort for teenagers who can’t safely tell their parents they are pregnant.
The new rules give judges extra time to rule on bypass cases, potentially allowing pregnancies to proceed past the point when abortion is an option; automatically deny bypass requests if the judge waits past the new, later deadlines; and require juveniles to disclose personal information about themselves that could make them vulnerable to abusive or retaliatory family members. They also require pregnant teens to request a bypass in the county where they live, and include no exceptions for rape survivors.
Just a reminder that you can’t always believe the headlines, especially when those headlines are written by agenda-driven anti-choice zealots.