Welcome to the weekly Friday Femorandum, illustrated this week with cute puppy gifs because sometimes we all just want to crawl back under the covers.
The backlash to last week’s Supreme Court decision, in which 5 of 8 justices ruled that two Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions in Texas, was swift and predictable, as abortion opponents doubled down on efforts to keep women from exercising their right to choose.
In Texas, antichoice politicians decided that if they couldn’t force abortion providers to build mini-hospitals or have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals, they’d make the process more expensive and humiliating instead. On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state’s health department to write new rules requiring women to pay for the burial of fetal remains that result from abortions. Currently, in all 50 states, fetal remains are disposed of as medical waste, because that’s what they are. To put this proposal in perspective, it would be like requiring people who have a tumor removed or a body part amputated to put it in a coffin and give it a graveside service. Embryos are not people, nor should women be forced into some grim pantomine of a funeral by delusional politicians who pretend that they are.
While that moves forward (likely through the courts; a similar proposal in Indiana has been halted by a judge), Texas anti-choicers aren’t sitting still. According to the Texas Tribune, they’re focusing their efforts on banning the safest form of second-trimester abortions, known as dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures, which account for only about 7 percent of all abortions in Texas but make for grisly headlines because they are performed later in pregnancy than most abortions. They’re also seeking to limit abortion access by increasing administrative regulations, specifically “increasing funding to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, increasing data collection on abortion complications and banning wrongful birth lawsuits, which allow parents to sue doctors for failing to properly warn them of the risks of giving birth to a child with serious abnormalities,” the AP reports. All of which are designed to place more risk on doctors who perform abortions, and more pressure on pregnant women to carry unplanned pregnancies to term.
At the federal level, Republicans in the US House of Representatives are holding funding for Zika victims hostage over funding for birth control and other family-planning options for low-income women and families, the Huffington Post reports. The GOP’s Zika funding plan would eliminate the Title X program, which provides low-cost sexual health services to about 4.1 million patients and prevents about 1 million unplanned pregnancies a year. Because nothing says “we care about women who might get this virus that causes massive, sometimes fatal fetal abnormalities” better than cutting funds that help women not get pregnant!
And not preventing those pregnancies has real-life consequences that people who are ostensibly concerned about women’s health, rather than just reflexively opposed to anything that increases women’s reproductive freedom, would presumably be against. As Pharmacy Times reports, the virus appears to be increasing orders for the drugs used in medical abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol, particularly in the Latin American countries that are most impacted by Zika and where access to birth control and abortion services is most limited. According to Women on Web, which offers telemedicine abortions to women who live in countries where abortion services aren’t available, orders for pills used in medical abortions have gone up between 38 and 106 percent over baseline since the World Health Organization issued its Zika warning several months ago.
Zika, as the Frisky notes, has recently been linked not just to microcephaly, in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and other neurological and physical abnormalities, but other abnormalities such as frequent seizures, limbs that don’t function, and developmental delays “that only become apparent in the weeks and months after birth.”
Researchers concluded that the WoW study has implications for states in the US where Zika will likely be prevalent and access to abortion is limited, including Mississippi, Florida, and–you guessed it–Texas.