This week combined the National Day of Prayer and Holocaust Remembrance Day, giving us an abundance of politically calculated and often inappropriate remarks about abortion. Holocaust re-appropriation spilled into a South Carolina abortion ban debate, deeply offending one Jewish lawmaker, who said you can “debate science and medicine and personhood all day,” but in the end it’s not comparable to 6 million people dying in a gas chamber.
His opponent disagreed. ”Six million is incredibly horrible, what they endured. But those 60 million taken out of the womb will never have a chance to be dragged into anything. They’re gone.”
Anti-abortion politicians in Vermont were just as eager to score points in Vermont, where one injected a diatribe about Planned Parenthood killing babies into a bill discussing environmental toxins harming children. And nationally, abortion opponent James Dobson used the National Day of Prayer to attack President Barack Obama as “the abortion president,” causing one congresswoman to leave the event in disgust.
Oddly enough, one presidential candidate who is normally fully flung into anti-choice rhetoric is going oddly silent, and it’s worrying his supporters. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is considered a front runner for 2016, and has wooed the rabid anti-abortion crowd with his push for a Human Life Amendment, which would define life as beginning at the moment of conception and ban all abortions and likely even hormonal birth control. Yet at a recent event he said he doesn’t believe abortion law in general would change anytime soon, as the country wasn’t ready for it.
That didn’t make the extreme anti-abortion wing happy at all. “Maybe it was inarticulate, or maybe these are the senator’s real feelings, but that last comment certainly set off alarm bells for social conservatives,” responded Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council.
Maybe there won’t be an outright overturning of Roe v. Wade anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean accessibility to abortion isn’t in immediate danger. There are a number of states that are proposing legislation that would allow anyone, not just someone directly involved in an abortion, to file a complaint against a provider. Now, Michigan shows a clear example of the end goal in the story of an ambulance-stalking anti-abortion activist annoyed that she can’t violate HIPAA statutes by publicly naming the patient involved in an abortion complication or file charges against the doctor involved.
It’s looking more likely that a 72 hour waiting period for an abortion in Missouri will pass this year, leaving a governor’s veto as the only hope of stopping it from becoming law. In Mississippi, the governor signed a later abortion ban that was originally 20 week post conception then revised back to 18 weeks and reapproved by the legislature, and a 20 week post conception ban is moving ahead in South Carolina. Abortion opponents angry about the governor’s veto of a 20 week ban in West Virginia are preparing to march on the state capitol.
More abortion clinics are in danger this week, as news comes across the country regarding pushes to further implement TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) bills on the books, especially admitting privileges rules. Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic had a hearing over the law meant to shut them down, although the judges’ ruling isn’t expected until June. The Ohio medical board appears ready to move ahead with closing the last clinic in Toledo — ending abortion access for most of northwester Ohio – stating that the transfer agreement the site has with a hospital over the border to the north in Michigan isn’t close enough to count. This despite the fact that the clinic has never had a complication requiring hospitalization in the last 10 years. And once again, activists in Michigan are doing their own push against a group of abortion providers, in this case demanding a Catholic hospital cease having any relationship with them in order to prevent them from providing reproductive health services — even birth control or sterilizations — in their other medical practices.
In other countries the situation is grim as well. Al Jazeera ran an extensive profile of a woman forced to lie about being raped in order to get an abortion in Brazil, a story that was also recounted earlier at Cosmopolitan by Jill Filopovic and Ana Siedschlag. Vice Magazine reports of the continuing trend in El Salvador of imprisoning women and girls who miscarry, suspecting them of inducing or procuring illegal abortions. Then again, the U.S. is taking another step towards imprisoning of women as well with a new law in Tennessee that will criminalize those who are found to have used drugs while pregnant.
In good news, in a victory against deceptive advertising, Google will now be pulling crisis pregnancy center ads when they pretend that they offer abortion services, thanks to NARAL’s work exposing the misleading practice. Crisis pregnancy centers, of course, are claiming that nothing has actually been removed. Then again, their track record for truth isn’t exactly untarnished, which was the whole point in the first place.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons