Choice News

Friday Femorandum: What’s At Stake

If you need more evidence that pro-choice voters need to put aside their differences and work together to prevent the 2017 inauguration of President Trump or Cruz, let Friday Femorandum provide you with a few.  With legislatures passing laws that actively harm women across the nation, congressmen and -women hellbent on pursuing “investigations” into Planned Parenthood that are obvious smokescreens to obscure their radical anti-choice agenda, and a Supreme Court that could overturn both Roe v. Wade and women’s health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the last thing we need is a President who wants nothing more than to ban abortion and turn the clock back to the 1950s.

Planned Parenthood announced this week that a multi-state campaign to defund the health-care organization over the past several years now threaten access to health care for half a million people, Colorlines reports.

Legislatures in 24 states have moved forward with attempts to cut funding to Planned Parenthood—most of them, as you can see in the map below, in the South and Midwest. Officials in 11 of those states are trying to prevent Medicaid funds from paying for abortions (a similar bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. David Taylor, failed in Washington State this year), prompting President Obama to send an urgent letter to states informing them that “providing the full range of women’s health services…shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.”

In Congress, anti-choice Republicans have proposed a bill that would ban so-called sex-selective and race-selective abortions (a similar bill in our own state legislature also failed this year). The bill would impose criminal penalties on abortion providers who perform abortions knowing that they are based on the sex or race of the fetus. The bill, critics say, is unnecessary, relies on racist stereotypes (particularly against Asian American women and families), and would turn women of color into “suspects in the exam room” and force doctors to interrogate women about their reasons for seeking abortions. A group of 56 people signed a letter to Congress objecting to the proposal this week, Rewire reports; all were people of color who had had abortions.

As the Supreme Court considers whether Texas’ laws regulating most abortion providers in the state out of existence constitute an “undue burden” on women’s ability to obtain an abortion, Rewire looks at  (and denounces) the legacy of an older ruling, Gonzales v. Carhart, which redefined the “undue burden” standard created by Roe. Basically, by finding that a law banning a certain type of late-term abortion procedure didn’t create an undue burden on women in 2007, it set the stage for states to argue that virtually no restriction constitutes a undue burden, as long as some “other choice” is theoretically available (even if that “choice” isn’t applicable to the specific circumstances—a medication abortion, which could be considered an alternative “choice,” isn’t available after a few weeks’ gestation, for example.)

The result, Rewire argues, has been that “anti-choice lawmakers in states across the country push more abortion restrictions under the guise that patient ‘choice’ remains, when increasingly the opposite is true.” Allowing Texas’ abortion restrictions to stay in place would signal that the Court is willing to watch states eliminate access to abortion as long as it remains legal in theory.

That’s a lot of bummers for one week, so we’ll leave you with some good news: Ted Cruz is wrong when he calls the current generation the most anti-abortion-rights young people in the nation’s history. In fact, Univision reports, “What Cruz said is a lie. Cruz stated that young people currently are the most anti-abortion generation in modern times. There are many studies that indicate that currently, young people aren’t more or less anti-choice than in the second half of the 1990s; and if we consider [another recent] Gallup poll, this generation is more pro-choice than in 2010.”

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