In big news this week, the Supreme Court decided not to block enforcement of the new TRAP law in Texas that has closed over a dozen abortion providers and made accessing the procedure in rural areas a virtual impossibility. According to the 5-4 majority, because 90 percent of Texans still remain within 100 miles of a clinic, the closures do not serve as an undue restriction on the right to an abortion, since the abortion procedure is still available, just not as easily accessible. What the majority fails to note is that without resources such as money, transportation, vacation time from work, baby sitters, hotel rooms and so on, “not as easily accessible” is the same as unavailable to many pregnant people in the state.
Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his enthusiastic support of the court’s decision, calling it “good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas.” State Sen. Wendy Davis, who filibustered against the law and is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, panned the court’s verdict. “This law is an abuse of power by politicians in Austin. Clinics will close and women’s health will be hurt,” Davis told Talking Points Memo. “I trust women to make their own decisions and will continue to work to make sure that women and mothers are safe and have access to adequate health care.”
There is still a sliver of hope that when the court has a full hearing on the merits of the case in January, at least one justice could change his mind and decide that after listening to all of the evidence, closing clinics simply because the clinics do not have a transfer agreement with a hospital (an unnecessary regulation that does nothing to safeguard a person who may have a complication after an abortion, who would go to the nearest hospital, anyway) severely hampers the right to obtain a termination. In the meantime, large groups of activists have been doing what they can to raise money for those in need to help them get to the closest clinic.
An online telethon hosted by comediennes Lizz Winstead and Sarah Silverman brought together a number of celebrities, pundits and activists, where they managed to raise over $50,000 in just a few hours. Assisting in that fundraising was celebrity chef Mario Batali, who not only matched a number of donations, but jousted with anti-choice naysayers on Twitter while doing so.
Unfortunately, anti-abortion groups are working just as hard to ensure the clinics stay closed. Life Dynamics, a Texas-based anti-abortion advocacy group, has been sending out graphic postcards to every doctor in Texas, they claim, urging them not to work with doctors who offer abortions, as well as letters to every hospital, pressuring them not to offer privileges to doctors who do abortions. “In addition, Hospitals realize that any link to abortion creates the possibility of protests and boycotts and may cause some patients and physicians to reject the hospital,” writes Life Dynamics in their letter to hospitals, implying that any relationship with an abortion provider will cause the hospital to be the target of anti-choice activism.
The bad news in Texas was tempered with good news: a victory in Albuquerque, N.M., where an attempt to ban abortion after 20 weeks failed to pass the voters. Extremist anti-abortion protester Rives Grogan, who tried to scream about the evils of abortion at the state’s Veterans Day memorial ended up in jail after aggressively arguing with students on a local college campus, and anti-choice activist Mark Harrington of Created Equal was arrested for allegedly refusing to leave property near a polling place despite requests from the property’s manager. Meanwhile, other areas in the New Mexico are allegedly pondering bans of their own.
Michigan wants to put adding separate “abortion riders” to insurance policies to a vote, but so far the voters seem disinclined to say yes.
Operation Rescue is continuing their campaign to get the neighborhood to turn on South Wind Women’s Clinic, the city’s new reproductive health provider. They’ve gone from sending graphic fetus postcards to local doctors to sending them out to all of the clinic’s neighbors, no doubt a lovely surprise for anyone checking their mail.
Patients heading to the Portland, Maine, Planned Parenthood can rest a little easier, as a 39 foot buffer zone has been approved for the clinic. Anti-choice protesters had been accused of harassing and intimidating those who were coming to the clinic, as well as creating a hostile environment that was affecting other businesses.
A Louisiana woman was arrested after she miscarried and accused of feticide because the stillborn fetus tested positive for cocaine.
A ridiculously sexist “abstinence only” motivational speaker came to one high school and learned a valuable lesson: kids can see through anti-sex, gendered Christian propaganda. Speaking of propaganda, the Pill probably won’t make you go blind.
Finally, the best explanation I’ve ever read for why teens should be able to access abortion without requiring mandatory parental consent.
Photo credit Wikimedia commons
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