The Recent Attacks Against Reproductive Rights

With all that has been happening in the world recently, it has been hard to keep up with all of the latest developments here in our own country. However, recent crackdowns haven’t just been a foreign affair to feel bad about while watching the news – no, some of these same attacks on citizens are happening right here in the United States. Lost amidst the flurry of revolutions, protests, and political strife have been several critical proposals and laws that seek to undermine the wellbeing and safety of 50% of the country’s population. Women’s health and safety has not simply been ignored lately, but has been deliberately attacked by those who would rather see archaic (and mostly of religious origin) practices reinstated than allow women access to things like family planning, inexpensive birth control, emergency contraception, abortion, and sexual education. The debate between these outdated ideas and more progressive stances on women’s rights and health has always been fierce in this country, but the speed and intensity of these sudden changes is shocking. Don’t just listen to me, though.

Pulling Out The Big Guns: Using The Budget Deficit To Cut Planned Parenthood.
New York Times Article
Here’s what it boils down to: a Republican majority in the House of Representatives has run out of options (having already listed PBS, High Speed Rail grants, the Energy Star Program, and the Ready to Learn TV Program, among many others, as potential cuts ) and is looking to cut all Title X Family Planning funding, which provides $318 million of aid each year for the sexual and reproductive health of low-income women. Why this is unbelievably foolish: for every dollar of this aid, the government saves an estimated four dollars by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Much of this money goes to Planned Parenthood, where there already laws stating that federal money cannot be used for abortion services. Of course, since any loss of life that isn’t related to the defense spending of over one trillion dollars is unthinkable, Planned Parenthood is being attacked for the 3% of its annual services that involve abortion Further proposed legislation would bar the organization from ever receiving any federal grants, which would severely limit the education programs, contraception, STD testing and treatment, and the cancer screenings that make up a full 84% of its services. I don’t think I need to repeat how ridiculous these proposals are – even if someone is against allowing women to choose what happens to their bodies, it is simply absurd to demand that all funding for family planning programs be cut over something that only takes up 3% of a program’s services.

Wisconsin’s Infamous Scott Walker Doesn’t Just Mess With Unions…
MSNBC Article
Everyone’s favorite union-busting governor has yet another poorly planned proposal in his budget that would repeal a law requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. Obviously, this is bad news: if birth control isn’t covered by insurance, it can get too expensive for many women to continue using it. Obviously, women without inexpensive birth control leads to an increase in the number of pregnant women, which quickly results in an increased need for abortions. Governor Walker (along with a number of other conservatives) wants to have it both ways, getting rid of both contraception options (for women, anyway – condoms are still as cheap and available as ever, which is definitely food for thought) and abortion, but I strongly believe that this is downright impossible. People will continue to have sex no matter what laws, religion, or anything else says, and a healthy society should provide ways for this to happen without spreading disease or forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies.

Playing Dirty: Racist Anti-Abortion Ads Popping Up Around the Country
In New York and in Los Angeles/Atlanta
Funded by at least two anti-abortion groups, these billboards try to convince the public that abortion providers are somehow targeting African American women in a sort of fetal genocide. Yes, they honestly think that people will believe this. By convincing a sympathetic population that abortion is really a tool for eliminating minorities, and that abortion is not truly the “choice” that their opposition claims it is, these advertisements hope to convince people to eliminate that choice entirely. Clearly, this is wrong, and the New York billboard was taken down after many complaints were made. Not only was it based upon dubious statistics about abortion, but it was also insulting to the entire African American population. “Black Children Are An Endangered Species” and “The Most Dangerous Place For An African American Is In The Womb” are what just two of these billboards stated, which carried racist undertones along with their anti-abortion message. Sadly, the people involved have plans to put more up in other cities nationwide, so watch for more of these in the future.

…Okay, I Just Don’t Know Anymore.
A Georgian state representative has once again introduced a bill that would make the termination of a pregnancy a felony for the mother if she could not prove that there was no “human intervention”. Um, what? Though the same representative has introduced the bill every year since 2002, he has not specified what “human involvement” would be defined as. Still, it is not hard to imagine the fear that a law like this would instill in women if they were to have a miscarriage (which happen in 10-15% of all recognizable pregnancies, and causes its own physical and emotional anguishes), since they would have to somehow prove that it was entirely natural. Luckily, the bill is generally thought to have no chance of ever being seriously considered for passage.

Well Now I’m Just Angry
Aaaand here we have Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, demonizing Planned Parenthood and its supporters. Also on the chopping block: Any woman who hasn’t been nearly as well-off as them and couldn’t (the horror!) afford to have a child, or refused to bear the child of a rapist (providing for rape victims is the government’s job? I want my tax dollars to go to something BETTER!).

It’s Not All Bad, Though!
A new law in New York City will force crisis pregnancy centers (aka religious centers that deal in lies, manipulation, and guilt to keep women from the important factual information they really need) to not only disclose all services they offer to the city, but to cease all deceptive practices that lead women to think that they were treated by a licensed, unbiased practitioner. Hopefully legislation like this will spread to other cities and states, so that all women can have access to the services and information they need, when they need it.

Finally, a few inspirational snippets for those who already believe that people need sexual education and that women have a right to their own bodies, or something to think about for those who do not:
Hillary Clinton, defending the rights of people around the world and telling off the people who oppose sexual education and abortion rights. Apparently, conservatives are not content with limiting these rights just in our own country, and want to make sure the rest of the world doesn’t get them either. Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore also gives an awesome speech, talking about her experience as a young single mother with an unplanned pregnancy as a direct response to the claims made by people who took a line from those billboards I mentioned. This is yet another reason why the current disparity in gender representation in the government is so bad – it’s pretty hard to sympathize with young, poor, unwed, or unready mothers when it is physically impossible for you become pregnant in the first place.

So, what do you all think? What do you think will happen with the currently proposed legislation? There’s been a lot going on, and it really is a ton to digest. If you know of any other recent proposals, protests, etc. that I missed, please share! It’s crucial that everyone knows what is going on with these vital issues so we can ensure the wellbeing of people everywhere.

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5 thoughts on “The Recent Attacks Against Reproductive Rights

  1. These issues are definitely the ones that get me the most riled up, and I agree with what you’ve said. Education is the most important thing we can give people so they can stay safe, and by taking away funding we’re only hurting those in need. Last year I wrote a paper about sex education, and what I found is that by teaching abstinence-only methods rather than giving information about contraceptives, the chances of students having sex or becoming pregnant are significantly higher. We need to have these resources available, and it’s disturbing to think that legislators have been ignoring the research in favor of their own moral views.

    As for the abortion debate, I don’t see why many from the pro-life side think those from the pro-choice side want abortions. There really aren’t many women who would get an abortion “just because”–it’s a huge decision and they weigh their options first. Ideally, no woman would ever need an abortion. If more women had access to contraceptives or were better educated about having sex, the chance of having an abortion would decrease.

    Also, awesome coverage on this topic! It’s great to finally have more information on what’s going on, especially with all of the other recent news stories drowning this out.

  2. Kelsey –
    Well done!
    This made all the hooplala incredibly accessible.
    The stripping of funds from PP terrifies me,
    That’s a hell of a lot of folks without access to repro healthcare,
    In the name of, what did you say 3% of all their services?

  3. Sarah – According to Planned Parenthood’s 2008 Annual Report (link provided above, you’ll find the graph on page 8), only 3% of all of their services were for abortions. That is to say, if 100 people went into a Planned Parenthood for only one service (birth control prescription, check-up, reproductive counseling, etc.), only 3 of them would be there for an abortion. My point was that some people want to block ALL funding to the organization on the grounds that they are there mainly to provide abortions, but since abortions are a very small percentage of the organization’s services, it makes no sense to completely strip it of funding. Did that make more sense, or did I totally misunderstand your question?

    Lauren – Exactly, that contradiction is what makes this whole debate so ridiculous. It’s even more infuriating when you see that the people who rail against abortion and sexual education are the same people who are so vehemently against welfare programs for poor families, single or unwed mothers/fathers, and their children. It doesn’t make any sense. There is a certain amount of reality that any elected official – or anyone, for that matter – should have to face, and I don’t think that they’re meeting that quota right now. People have sex, end of story. You can either help them do it in a way that won’t result in children/disease/abuse/etc., or you can support them after those things DO happen so you don’t have 47% of children in single-mother families living in poverty like we do now. An ideal society would have both parts covered, but no functional society can have neither.

  4. Great job on analyzing everything that’s happened so far; usually I’d write in on some of these things myself, but there’s just been so many horrible things going on that I’m too angry to type. “War on Women” is no exaggeration for the bills many conservatives are trying to pass. I guess this will teach most women to not vote them in on the premise that they’ll actually focus on fixing the economy for once.

    And yes, although Planned Parenthood uses none of its funding for abortions, Republicans are still demonizing it to score political points.

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