Category Archives: Reproductive Justice
Seventeen children died in yet another school shooting this week. The party that cares only about children before they are born has done nothing to stop more kids from dying. Instead, their focus on forcing women to birth babies they do not want or cannot care for remains steadfast. Here are five new ways anti-choice zealots are working to control women as they ignore the needs of living, breathing children.
Mississippi abortion clinics might soon be prohibited from providing abortions past 15 weeks gestation. The state already bans abortions past 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. This week, the majority-Republican house voted to ban all abortions beyond 15 weeks. The measure garnered some support from Democrats, apparently ever willing to throw women under the bus.
Women who seek abortion clinics or a pregnancy test on Google maps may be diverted to crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) instead. CPCs offer little or no medical care, but do tell women lies about the physical and psychological perils of abortion. Some even lie to women about the services they offer, in an attempt to stall a woman’s abortion. In so doing, they may cause a woman to wait until her second trimester, when abortions become more expensive and more legally restricted.
Georgetown University students recently tested what happens to women who call CPCs seeking help. They found that these centers are often dishonest about their intentions. Rather than using overtly anti-choice language, they use covert tactics to stall women seeking abortions, and to instill fear about the procedure. Yet they offer few or no resources or support for women undertaking the Herculean task of raising a child born from an unplanned pregnancy.
Arizona Wants Women to Justify Their Abortions
In Arizona, the Health and Human Services committee approved Senate Bill 1394 along party lines. The bill would require abortion providers to review a checklist of possible reasons for abortions, allowing the state to gather data on why women seek abortions. While the law does not ban abortions for specific reasons, the process could make women seeking abortions feel threatened—or even create the illusion that a woman can only seek an abortion if the government thinks her reason is good enough.
Tennessee Votes to Force Women to Look at Pre-Abortion Ultrasounds
Legislators in the Tennessee House recently approved legislation requiring women to undergo ultrasounds prior to seeking an abortion. The original version of the bill would have banned abortion after a heartbeat can be detected—usually around 6 weeks gestation. In a new version of the law, abortion providers would be required to perform an ultrasound, then share the results with women seeking abortions. Democratic Representative Sherry Jones, in a floor debate, called the measure “emotional abuse.”
Trump Administration Budget Endangers Women
The Trump Administration recently unveiled FY2019 budget could slash programs for women and children. It creates significant additional requirements for low-income people seeking support services, reduces Medicaid funding, and blocks access to preventative care at Planned Parenthood and similar clinics.
May Rupert, Senior Director of Policy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement:
“President Trump’s proposed budget harms women, families, immigrants, low-income people and all others who deserve a government that protects and respects their rights, health and well-being.
“Instead of using this opportunity to propose meaningful investments that would improve the health and well-being of women and families, the Trump administration has created a budget that erects barriers to critical healthcare coverage and services for women.
“This budget does not represent a meaningful starting point for negotiation. Congress must flat-out reject this effort to make it more difficult for women to access abortion and essential services.”
The abortion pill makes up about a quarter of all abortions. When scientific evidence highlighted the safety of the pill in 2016, the FDA relaxed guidelines. So the popularity of the abortion pill will likely continue to increase. This pill is a favorite talking point for right wing anti-choice activists. That’s likely because it makes abortion a more convenient option, and gives the woman substantial control over when and under what circumstances to terminate her pregnancy. Misconceptions about the abortion pill are common. That’s in spite of the fact that, for many women, it’s an affordable and relatively easy option. Here are five abortion pill facts you should know.
Sentiliano Canko, 32, was charged this week with a bomb threat directed to a New Jersey abortion clinic. Last week, anti-choice protesters stormed the waiting rooms of at least two abortion clinics. An attorney general and president determined not to enforce the law have birthed a new generation of anti-choice terrorism. While the far right uses terrorism as a guise for undermining civil liberties, they ignore one of the most common forms of terrorism: anti-choice terrorism. Here’s what you need to know.
Spend enough time outside your local abortion clinic, and you’ll see them: protesters, most of them men, holding signs of supposedly aborted fetuses. They plead with women to not abort their “babies.” They offer the laughable support of baby clothes, but never offer real financial assistance or express a willingness to adopt unwanted babies. They yell at women who go through with the procedure. They ditch women who back out, consistently opposing governmental policies that might offer real support to women with unwanted pregnancies.
Researchers have documented the right’s lies about abortion over and over. One of the most pernicious is the lie of post-abortion trauma. Women who seek abortions are not traumatized en masse. And when they do feel trauma, it’s often due to the tactics the right employs to “protect” women seeking abortions. Anti-choicers have created teh very trauma they decry. It’s just one more indication that their opposition to abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting women.
It’s no accident that the right uses graphic images of allegedly aborted fetuses. The goal is to shame women considering abortions and guilt those who have already had them. It’s a tactic that works. Women struggling with depression and guilt may believe these images represent the fetuses they aborted. In most cases, the images are of babies much larger than those that could be legally aborted, contributing to the myth that abortion kills large, living, feeling beings.
Creating Shame and Grief
The most common emotion women report feeling after an abortion is relief. Ninety percent of women express sentiments of relief in the week following a pregnancy termination. But research suggests that state abortion laws requiring waiting periods and pre-abortion counseling increase shame. This reduces women’s feelings of relief, and can cause them to feel guilty following an abortion. This is a deliberate attempt by the right to punish women for undergoing abortions. This guilt and shame is totally unnecessary. It’s not a natural result of abortion. It’s a byproduct of the culture wars.
The Abortion Salvation Narrative
Spend enough time at a far right church, and you’ll eventually hear the same tired abortion narrative: a “troubled” woman (she’s always troubled; normal women don’t have abortions) sough an abortion. She was ravaged by grief and guilt for years. Then finally, she found Jesus. He saved and forgave her, and the congregation embraced her. Good for her. Women deserve to embrace whatever narratives about their own lives that they wish.
The trouble with this particular narrative is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A stigma against talking about abortion means that women rarely hear positive abortion stories. They only hear the tragic tales anti-choice zealots weave. So they think it’s natural to grieve and feel bad. Those who don’t may think there’s something wrong with them. And those who do feel mixed or negative emotions may think it’s because there was something wrong with the choice they made.
Abortion Trauma: Is it Real?
Studies have repeatedly debunked the notion of post-abortion syndrome. But women can and do experience trauma related to their abortions. Some women seek abortions under duress. Others have abortions because, under policies supported by anti-choice Republicans, they can’t afford to have babies. And yes, some women grow to regret their abortions.
Does this mean abortion should be illegal, or that it’s inherently traumatic? Of course not. Some women regret becoming mothers. As many as 20% develop depression after having a child. Yet anti-choicers don’t argue that pregnancy should be banned.
The trauma some women experience after abortion is a direct result of the cultural milieu in which abortion exists. Pro-choicers do little to actually support women, arguing that abortion is a tragic decision that should be rare. Anti-choicers are there to fill in the gaps. They tell women to grieve for their “babies” for the rest of their lives. They instruct them that they must redeem themselves for their sinful decisions. They tell tales of women ravaged by the pain of abortion. And they never mention the flip side: that women denied abortions have worse outcomes, and that pregnancy has always been more dangerous for women than abortion.