One Step for Pro-Choice, Five Steps Back for Women’s Rights

After Wendy Davis’ filibuster last week, women around Texas and around the country swelled with pride that their reproductive rights were protected for another day. Yet after this amazing, momentous feat why does it feel like states across the country - including Texas which has again manipulated its rules to try for a second time to ram the anti-choice bill through - are coming down harder to restrict reproductive rights and more broadly, women’s rights?

 

On the evening of July 2nd, Republicans in North Carolina’s Senate amended a Sharia law proposal that would enact new anti-abortion measures. These measures would close clinics and prevent Planned Parenthood from being able to perform legal abortion services within the state. Then on the morning of July 3rd the Senate Republicans used their majority to pass the bill, which pushed the proposal further towards the state House, where Republicans also have the majority. The bill is considered to have a likely chance of being passed. If this bill passes it would close all but one of North Carolina’s 36 abortion clinics. This situation sounds incredibly familiar except North Carolina did not have a Wendy Davis to take a stand.

Even earlier this week in Ohio, Governor John Kasich signed a $62 billion-dollar state budget. It seems completely normal except for the fact that state Republicans hid the most restrictive abortion laws within the country inside the budget at the final hour. Now Ohio has cut 1.4 million dollars of funding for Planned Parenthood, has redefined “pregnancy” and “fetus” which also redefines the types of birth control that are now considered forms of abortion like IUDs. Some more restrictions are, if a woman does want to get an abortion, including wanting to get birth control that is considered a form of abortion, that woman is subjected to a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound along with lectures about alternative options. And if it couldn’t get any worse, rape crisis clinic counselors cannot tell sexual assault victims about abortions or else they will get their public funding stripped away. This example of back door politics and extreme violation of reproductive rights makes the Texas ordeal seem like a partisan and transparent process!

Whether in 1973 the year Roe v. Wade passed when sixty-four percent of Americans agreed that the choice of an abortion should be solely made by a woman and her physician or in 2013 where 7 in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand the numbers hardly change and the majority still believe that there should be an option for abortion. In the 2013 poll 31% of respondents in a poll said abortion should always be legal, 23% thought it should be legal most of the time, and 35% felt it should be illegal except in circumstances of rape, incest and to save a woman’s life.

These examples only show us that our government needs an extreme change. We need to make more of an effort to elect a true democracy where our representatives listen to majority sentiment. By harnessing the power of women, people of color, and progressive whites we can create the path to replacing those who would hold us back with those who will move us forward, sometimes in pink running shoes.

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