Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's time to stop the anti-abortion extremism rising up across America

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Abortion -- or rather a woman's choice to make that difficult decision -- is the law of the land. The Supreme Court said so a long time ago. But, inch by inch, the anti-abortion extremists who control the Republican Party and so much of the political narrative are rolling back that hard-won freedom, enacting unreasonable restrictions in state after state.

Well, enough is enough:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) [yesterday introduced] the Women's Health Protection Act of 2013, joined by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). The bill would prohibit states from passing so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose strict and cost-prohibitive building standards on abortion clinics, require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds, and create other barriers to abortion access.

The Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that states cannot block women's access to abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, which is estimated to occur between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. But state legislators have found a number of ways to make it difficult logistically, financially and emotionally for women to have abortions before that point.

"In states like Texas and Wisconsin, legislatures are passing bills with the false pretext of protecting health when their only objective is to obstruct and curtail access to safe and legal abortions and reproductive services. These laws are largely unconstitutional, and some measure of certainty and clarity is required to preempt these regulations and laws so women are not deterred in their very personal decisions based on their own values on how they want to use their constitutional rights," Blumenthal said. "The Women’s Health Protection Act will provide a clear and certain response to these regulations and laws that impose unnecessary tests, procedures and restrictions — including requirements for physical layout in clinics — on reproductive services."

There are certainly reasonable restrictions that pro-choicers can accept. No one is saying, for example, that there should be unfettered access to abortion in the third trimester. But what's going on here is that Republicans are trying to get around abortion's legality by making it next to impossible for a woman to get one, blocking access in a way that interferes with women's health more broadly and also that disproportionately targets women who can't afford to travel to states where abortion is more readily available. (We talk about the Republican war on women, but this is also an example of Republican class warfare.)

The time to fight back is now.

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