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Mississippi is Determined to Shut Down the State’s Only Abortion Clinic

Earlier last year, in Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Currier, a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked a law that would have shut down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. Read more »

Abortion Providers Are Not Criminals. You Can Keep Your Handcuffs.

On this year’s 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion providers around the country received plastic handcuffs with notes that read “Could you be next?” The organization who sent them said their intent was to “make a connection.” Yeah, right.  

Unfortunately, working at an abortion clinic often means receiving harassing mail, faxes, and phone calls. But it doesn’t stop there.  According to the  National Clinic Violence Survey [PDF] by the Feminist Majority Foundation, nearly one in five abortion clinics experience severe violence, including arsons, bombings, and gunfire, and in the last four years, targeted intimidation of and threats to abortion providers, clinics, and staff has increased significantly, with 51.9% of clinics affected by some form of harassment or intimidation. The most widely reported types of harassment include the mailing of anti-choice brochures and the posting of personal information on the internet. Read more »

West Virginia Politicians to Women: We Don’t Care About You or the Constitution

Today, the West Virginia House of Delegates will vote on H.B. 2568, a bill that would unconstitutionally ban abortion after 20 weeks. Not only do some West Virginia politicians think that they, not women themselves, should make this deeply personal medical decision, but the House Health Committee even voted down an amendment that would have made exceptions in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. According to one West Virginia politician, “Obviously, rape is awful . . . what is beautiful is the child that would result from this.” Read more »

The Voices Politicians Will Ignore When They Vote for Later Abortion Bans

In January, the House of Representatives hastily scrapped a vote on H.R. 36, which would impose a nationwide ban on abortions at 20 weeks. But some Members still want a vote on the ban in the future, so the fight is not over. And, states continue to move forward with their own unconstitutional 20 week bans. Today, the West Virginia House of Delegates is set to vote on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.

Setting aside for the moment that these bills are unconstitutional, I want to reflect on the people who would be most hurt by these bans. Mother Jones recently compiled the stories of six women who obtained abortions after 20 weeks. The common theme in each of their stories is that a 20 week abortion ban would have meant that politicians—not these women and their doctors—would have made the women’s deeply personal, medical decisions.

So what happens when politicians do interfere with this decision? Read more »

Religious Refusals — More Like Discrimination

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court recognized that a woman has a right to make fundamental decisions affecting her health and future, including whether or not to obtain an abortion. In the decades since Roe, women and their families have come to rely on the right to an abortion.

Today, however, the well-established right to an abortion is being attacked under the guise of religious freedom, putting a woman’s ability to obtain a safe, legal abortion in jeopardy. The first refusal law was enacted shortly after Roe, allowing individuals and entities to refuse to provide abortions or sterilizations due to religious beliefs. Since then, nearly every state has adopted a comparable law. Recent years have seen an increase in legislative activity related to refusal laws, as well as an expansion of refusal rights. For example, in some states medical professionals can refuse to provide referrals to women, pharmacists can refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, and hospitals can refuse to offer health care services to which it is opposed. Read more »

Mayhem in the House of Representatives

Who knew a fight over a reporting requirement for rape survivors could take down a horrible bill that would impose a nationwide abortion ban on later pregnancies? But that’s exactly what happened last night. Just as I was about to get on a treadmill to work out the stresses of the day, I learned that the House Rules Committee was hastily convening at 9 pm to replace the 20 week ban bill with a totally different anti-abortion bill.

You can’t make this stuff up when it comes to abortion politics. Read more »

The Real Cost of Abortion Restrictions

On Tuesday, while President Obama reminded us, “[T]hat every women should have access to the health care she needs,” I was returning home from the premiere of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. Some of the stories were heartbreaking and some were amazingly uplifting, but they all had one thing in common—each woman made the decision that was best for her and her family. Read more »

Fighting to Protect Roe v. Wade – 42 Years Later

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court recognized for the first time that the constitutionally protected right to privacy encompasses a woman’s right to decide if, and when, she becomes a parent. 

As a twenty-five year old woman, who has only lived in a post-Roe world, it can be difficult to imagine the landscape of women’s health and reproductive rights issues prior to this decision. I cannot fathom a world where abortion is illegal, forcing women to resort to dangerous back alley abortions.

Even though Roe was decided 42 years ago and even though it’s the only reality I know, the fight to protect the right is more critical now than ever. In Texas, for example, an extreme anti-abortion law shut down more than half of abortion clinics. There are now huge parts of Texas where women no longer have access to these services. Read more »

The Latest Controversy Over The Inadequate Rape/Incest Exception

Two Congresswomen who had cosponsored H.R. 36, the bill that would impose a nationwide ban on later abortions, pulled their support yesterday because of the narrow exception for rape and incest survivors. This exemption would have required survivors of rape or incest to report their attack in order to obtain an abortion. Media accounts noted that the two cosponsors pushed for eliminating the reporting requirement. This latest controversy highlights the fundamental problem with this bill—the cold rejection of the reality of women’s lives.

H.R. 36 exempts a rape or incest survivor only if the survivor reports the sexual assault to an “appropriate law enforcement agency” (or, in the case of incest, to a “government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect”).

You may be wondering why this is an issue. For one thing, most sexual assaults aren’t reported--official statistics set reporting rates at just 35% [PDF]. Among college students, the reporting rate is just 20% [PDF]. Read more »