The Republican plea to stop “activist judges” is just so much hooey. We saw that last week when South Dakota passed a near-complete ban on legal abortion for the purpose of forcing the issue of overturning the supposedly settled Roe v. Wade to be decided in court. Now, Mississippi is making the same move.
From the Associated Press:
The measure, which passed the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday, would allow abortion only to save a woman’s life. It would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.
[Mississippi Gov. Haley] Barbour, a Republican, said he preferred an exception in cases of rape and incest, but if such a bill came to his desk: “I suspect I’ll sign it.”
The full House could vote on the bill next week, and it would then go to the Senate.
A similar measure – along with a proposed state constitutional amendment – is being considered by Missouri’s legislature as well.
California abortion rights advocates argued abortion is a women’s-health issue and should remain that way.
“At Planned Parenthood we believe very strongly that health care decisions should be made by women and their families, not politicians,” said Liz Hass, communications manager at Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.
Amy Everitt, the California director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, agreed and added [the South Dakota ban] will be a step back for women.
“What’s interesting is roughly 800 abortions happen in South Dakota annually. What you’re going to see is bans don’t stop women from getting abortions. It just makes it unsafe and illegal. What we’re going to see in South Dakota is a return to 1972 when women died from illegal, back alley abortions,” she said.
This will separate the haves from the have-nots in the area, Everitt said. Women who have the means to go out of state for the desired procedure will do so, leaving other women with little option, she added.
Writing in Slate, William Saletan warns that moves by individual state legislatures is only part of the right-wing plot to take away women’s rights and says it is time for pro-choicers to take a new approach:
For the first time in nearly 14 years, legal abortion in the United States is in serious jeopardy.
In recent days, the shape of this assault has become clear. First, on the morning of Justice Samuel Alito’s debut, the Supreme Court announced that it would review the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, setting up what pro-lifers hope will be the beginning of the end of Roe v. Wade. The next day, South Dakota lawmakers passed a ban on virtually all abortions, and pro-choicers vowed to litigate it all the way to the high court, which would force the justices either to overturn or reaffirm Roe. A few days later, the court told pro-choicers they could no longer use racketeering laws to halt blockades and protests at abortion clinics.
The impending legal battles put us on the verge of repeating the last two decades of the abortion war: pro-life victory, pro-choice backlash, pro-choice complacency, pro-life revival. At the end of the cycle 20 years from now, we’ll be right back where we are today. Unless, that is, we find a way out.
And that means moving beyond Roe. Politically, legally, and technologically, the 33-year-old court decision is increasingly obsolete as a framework for managing decisions about reproduction. But pro-lifers can’t launch the post-Roe era, because they’re determined to abolish its guarantee of individual autonomy, and the public won’t stand for that. Only pro-choicers can give the public what it wants: abortion reduction within a framework of autonomy.
Which is what pro-choice advocates are working to do: They want to convince lawmakers to change their focus from assaulting women’s rights to instituting common-sense measures (beyond unrealistic calls for abstinence) to prevent pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America is running a new ad campaign challenging federal and state legislators to do exactly that. It calls for “an end to divisive attacks on women’s reproductive freedom, such as South Dakota’s ban on abortion, and instead focuses on sensible, effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancies.”
Says Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, “We should improve women’s access to birth control, including the ‘morning-after’ pill; give our teenagers honest, realistic sex education; and increase support for family-planning services. These proposals enjoy strong support from pro-choice and pro-life Americans alike. Our message is simple: Stop playing politics with women’s reproductive freedom and unite behind these commonsense measures.”
Sounds like a plan. If you really want to make International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month count, you’ll start contacting lawmakers and governors and demanding that they stand to defend a woman’s right to choose and work for pregnancy prevention rather than nuking reproductive freedoms and the rights to privacy and self-determination.