It’s not as if we didn’t know prior to the last few months of 2016 that Republican state lawmakers get off on screwing women over, but the sharp spike in abortion restrictions either floated or passed in states like Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, and others recently reveals that the election of Donald Trump has certainly emboldened them. And what else should we have expected from a man who’s previously considered punishing women for having abortions, and chose as his veep a man who “long[s] for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”
And, unfortunately, the final months of 2016 were really just a preview of what’s in store for the year to come:
20-week and D&E bans
Unconstitutional, of course, because Roe v. Wade clearly protects the human right to an abortion prior to fetal viability. And while fetal viability varies, tending to range from as early as 22 weeks to as late as 25 weeks, this is clearly a matter we should leave to doctors and women rather than predominantly male lawmakers. What a lovely message to send to women everywhere, that their autonomy over their bodies as incontrovertibly living human beings is less important than protecting a cluster of fetal tissue!
In the last year, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia all moved to ban dilation and evacuation (D&E), known by abortion opponents by the morbid title, “partial-birth abortions”. D&E procedures take place in the second trimester beginning at 12 weeks, so bans on D&E procedures are technically bans on abortion at 12 weeks.
Unfortunately, in 2017, expect bans like these in states including Kentucky and Virginia, where similar bills are about to be proposed in their legislatures.
Fetal burial/cremation requirements
Judge Sam Sparks extended his injunction against the practice by delaying his final decision another three weeks. https://t.co/QVSNoUSFkr— Dallas Observer (@Dallas_Observer) January 5, 2017
While the law was soon temporarily struck down by a federal judge, as was the case in Indiana and Louisiana when they passed similar laws earlier this year, the Huffington Post notes that their ultimate fates have yet to be decided in the courts.
On top of all the things that make fetal burial requirements probably the most problematic line of attack on abortion rights, don’t even get me started on just how dangerous it is to represent aborted fetuses as slain human beings who need funerals, with women and doctors as their murderers. It’s literally a recipe for extremists like 2015’s Robert Dear to embrace anti-choice vigilante justice.
Overturning Roe v. Wade
If history shows us anything, it’s that whether or not it’s legal or safe, abortion is going to keep happening; a woman seeking an abortion doesn’t *want* it like she wants a candy bar or Gucci handbag, she *needs* it. So what are anti-choice lawmakers ACTUALLY hoping to accomplish, knowing full well that banning abortion isn’t going to prevent it, and knowing that, as the state of Texas has shown, not even piling on endless, medically unnecessary restrictions stops abortions from happening, and simply ups rates of self-induced and out-of-state abortions?
Whatever the legal or financial obstacles, women who need abortions will find a way to have them; said legal and financial obstacles really just serve to stigmatize and render the process of getting an abortion more costly and often more dangerous, but bear almost no effect on the rate at which they occur. (The real way to reduce the rate of abortions? Invest in contraception, aka maybe not defund Planned Parenthood!). On some level, anti-choice lawmakers must know this fact and actively choose to ignore it, in which case it’s time for them to cut the bullshit, quit waving the flag of baby-saving moral superiority, and just admit their real, singular mission is to stand in the way of women’s human rights. It really is that simple.
Because for all the fuss they make about the sanctity of life and motherhood, I don’t see them doing much to fight childhood poverty/hunger or pregnancy discrimination, protect healthcare, or at the very least fight for paid family leave. Nope, none of that.