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How 2016 Became A Year For Anti-Choice Legislation

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How 2016 Became A Year For Anti-Choice Legislation

Texas, Planned Parenthood, Medicaid Funding

Oklahoma’s recently-vetoed abortion bill, which would have stripped abortion providers of their medical licensees and possibly exposed them to criminal charges, was just the latest in a raft of bills aimed at restricting access to abortions ever since Republicans swept to power in 69 of 99 state legislatures and 33 of 50 governorships during the 2014 midterm elections. In 2016, they’re trying to solidify those gains with a flurry of anti-abortion legislation.

Over the past two years, there has been an explosion in the number of anti-abortion bills introduced in state legislatures. Over 400 anti-abortion bills introduced in 2015 alone. And in the first half of this year, that number spiked again. Across 45 states, 1,022 provisions to curtail abortion rights have been introduced, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy institute focused on reproductive health and rights. Of those provisions, 17 have passed at least one legislative chamber and 21 have been enacted in five states.

The American public generally only notices these bills once they reach the governor’s office, where they’re vetoed, like in Oklahoma, or signed into law, as in Indiana, Michigan, Alabama and South Carolina.

While the rest of the country was focused on the Oklahoma standoff, South Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill making it illegal for women more than 20 weeks pregnant to get an abortion, ostensibly to avoid inflicting pain on the unborn child, despite evidence that fetal pain doesn’t occur until after the 28th week of conception.

Indiana passed one of the most restrictive laws in the country back in March, effectively blocking any of the remaining avenues for women to access safe abortions in the state. “Seeing them all in one place, that is very striking,” said Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor and abortion rights activist, to The New York Times. “It’s like the kitchen sink: Everything that isn’t already in the law. And the law is already really restrictive.”

Indiana’s law banned abortion on the grounds of “race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” It further required that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital.

In West Virginia, the Republican-controlled state legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to make it illegal to get an abortion after 20 weeks of a pregnancy. Titled the Dismemberment Abortion Act, the bill banned anyone from performing an abortion except where the mother’s life was in danger.

Meanwhile, pro-life groups continue to bankroll political campaigns, with $835,000 being spent in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2014, pro-life groups spent just over $800,000.

Abortion bills often share a common rhetoric to justify limiting women’s health care access. Recently, the word “dismemberment,” meant to evoke chopped up fetuses, is a favorite of the anti-abortion right. David Daleiden edited hidden camera footage to make it seem like Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast was selling “baby parts” in 2015 — incidentally, he faces two felonies and a misdemeanor charge for that video today.

This obsession with “dismembered” babies was one of the reasons Robert Lewis Dear, who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, claimed to have attacked the facility. During a rambling interview following his arrest, Dear reportedly yelled “No more baby parts!” a reference to the videos Daleiden had shot earlier that year.

There may be another factor fueling the recent surge in abortion legislation across the country: the successful candidacy of Donald Trump, who has defied conservative orthodoxy on everything from trade to the minimum wage.

There has been a concerted push by Christian conservatives, whose traditional positions on numerous issues have been upended by Donald Trump’s ascent, to make sure the party does not shift on abortion, even if he has personally vacillated on the procedure.

“I think our platform is pretty clear on those subjects. Life begins at conception, and that 14th Amendment rights apply to unborn children,” Reince Priebus said in late April, in one of the few instances he has had the courage to publicly contradict Trump. He was backed up by a reanimated Ted Cruz, who has promised he would wield his 500-plus delegates on the convention floor to enforce a sufficiently conservative party platform on abortion, should Trump try to change it.

If abortion operates on the same paradigm as most other conservative social issues — support of anti-choice legislation is especially common when the Christian right can paint itself as the “victim” of women’s right to choose — expect plenty more legislation as this massive culture war of an election grinds on.
Photo: Protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Vista, California, August 3, 2015.      REUTERS/Mike Blake 



  1. PrecipitousDrop May 29, 2016

    The Republican party platform doesn’t care a fig about “fiscal responsibility,” “small government,” or “jobs.” That’s just filler. That’s the bubble wrap to protect their real package. The Republican Party cares about phenomenal enrichment for the very powerful few. Wars and the spoils of war — in the form of majority acquisition of dwindling resources easily lifted from weakened governments — is a fairly economical and efficient express path to further enrichment.
    The other item in their platform is nothing more or less than crotch sniffing. Are we having sex? Is it the “right” sex that they approve of, or is it deviant sex? Georgia’s young congressman Allen pulled out his bible and preached to assembled Republicans, in a committee meeting, about the necessity of executing homosexuals. Read all about it in “The Hill.” That’s ISIS stuff, folks. That’s our theocratic Republican party. The crotch sniffers. Girls having sex and NOT martyring themselves to motherhood? Aw, hell no. That’s crotch sniffing.
    Republicans, our eyes are Up Here.

    1. plc97477 May 29, 2016

      Great post. Thanks.

    2. Siegfried Heydrich May 29, 2016

      What was interesting, though, was his colleague’s reactions to his biblical ranting. They walked out in disgust. Even they realize that this is blowing up in their faces.

      1. PrecipitousDrop May 29, 2016

        Yes, Siegfried, some did walk out. Unfortunately, too many stayed for the heartfelt, “Amen.” And NO ONE has suggested censuring Rep. Allen. Not one single republican.

    3. Charles Winter May 29, 2016

      The GOP sees a benefit in this. The young parents, especially single parents, are kept busy working two or three jobs, and have no time to vote.

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  2. ralphkr May 29, 2016

    I am convinced the the real reasons that the Republican hierarchy are against abortion are their desperate need for cheap labor and for cannon fodder while religion is just used to flim-flam the horde.

  3. johninPCFL May 29, 2016

    The “small government, personal responsibility” GOP is now the party that distrusts women and their doctors as well as the entire LGBT community. They now favor a government just small enough to put a policeman in every bedroom, every doctor’s office and delivery room, as well as maintain a million-man army. And. of course, treaties are unnecessary and why have an army you don’t use.
    Maybe the ultimate plan is for all of the “convicted” to be enslaved into the military to become the necessary cannon fodder for all of the wars they also advocate.

  4. oldfed May 29, 2016

    YA think never ending scandals profiteering didn’t have something to do with it??

  5. Siegfried Heydrich May 29, 2016

    This is their last hurrah, and I think they know full well that these laws will, once they reach the courts, be overturned. But at this point, this is all they’re down to. Trannies in the bathrooms hunting your daughters and immoral sluts murdering their babies. You will note that in both cases, they are ‘protecting the innocent’. They’ve utterly lost the social morality wars, and this is their last stand. If they lose here, what else do they have? Who else can they scapegoat?

    The demographics are destroying the social conservatives. Their hate and bigotry are making them, their party, and their churches toxic to the next Gen, and their influence is dwindling rapidly. This is the last election that they’ll be able to exert their power. By ’20, the older conservative’s ranks will have been decimated by deaths from old age and the ravages of Alzheimer’s. They are literally dying off like flies, and their numbers are not being replenished.

    The next Gen is turning away from the greed, hypocrisy, and bigotry with which christianity has been perverted, and despising the conservatism that they regard as a hateful relic of the previous century. As the young take over, the laws that still remain on the books will be repealed, and rejected. Those who defend these oppressions will pay a heavy price at the polls and will fade from the scene.

    There will still always be retrograde states and regions where bigotry and repression still hold sway. But they will decline in both population and economic strength as they young move away, and businesses choose to set up their operations elsewhere or relocate from states that engage in this kind of behavior.

    This is the 21st century now. There’s a new generation stepping up. And the values of their elders will be cast aside as they move forward into the light. leaving the darkness behind them

    1. PrecipitousDrop May 29, 2016

      Siegfried, I hope you are correct. Thanks for the glimmer.

      1. plc97477 May 30, 2016

        The polls show that he is right. Young people poll overwhelmingly

  6. Charles Winter May 29, 2016

    We should remind the people working to shut down Planned Parenthood that they are actually pro-abortion, because PP prevents far more abortions than it performs.

    Of course, such a reminder will have no effect on those whose major concern is not the fetus but their own doctrinal purity.

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