It’s that time of year when lame duck legislators deck the halls with anti-choice legislation. I’m not sure why they think putting a padlock on our lady parts is what we want for the holidays, but it seems to be their go-to stocking stuffer.
In Ohio, the legislature is scrambling to send Gov. Kasich two anti-abortion bills. One would prevent an abortion after there’s a fetal heartbeat (around six weeks), when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant. Another Ohio bill prevents the use of the D & C procedure up to 24 weeks, which is often used to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester. Together, the bills are essentially a complete abortion ban.
In Michigan, a bill is awaiting the governor’s signature that would permanently ban doctors from using telemedicine to prescribe medication to terminate early pregnancies. Telemedicine is when a doctor uses the internet to oversee a patient’s care at a local clinic, and prescribes treatment online. This is critical in places like Michigan where many counties don’t even have a practicing ob/gyn, or where the only hospital in the area is Catholic and will not attend to women’s reproductive healthcare needs. (By the way, using telemedicine prescribe medication abortions is not only convenient, it’s safe.)
On December 10, we got some (surprising) news from the U. S. Supreme Court. The court let stand a decision from a lower court that states can’t prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid payments. That was a holiday gift to the millions of women who depend upon Medicaid to cover services they receive at Planned Parenthood, including annual pelvic exams, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, cancer screening and breast exams. (It’s already illegal for Medicaid to cover abortions in most cases.)
The surprise was that newly-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh voted with the majority in deciding not to take the case. But ‘tisn’t the season to be jolly yet, Handmaids. We have no idea if the court is committed to upholding our Constitutional right to abortion, or if the court is simply a little vagina-shy right now. It’s entirely possible that no one, not even the Supremes, was ready for a showdown over Roe just months after that confirmation fiasco.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continues to deliver women lumps of coal. I got this from a Planned Parenthood bulletin this week:
The Trump-Pence administration has released a new proposed rule designed to cut people off from abortion care by targeting insurance providers.
What does that mean? It means insurance companies would be forced to jump through ridiculous hoops in order to cover abortion care. It means over a million people, who received coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would be affected by this new rule and could lose access to abortion care.
Let's call this what it is: Another blatant attempt to undermine the ACA, stigmatize basic reproductive health care, and block patients from accessing abortion. And it's part of the Trump-Pence administration's broader attempt to eliminate access to abortion care altogether.
This holiday season, conservatives are intent on putting women’s reproductive rights on ice. Remain ever-vigilant, my friends. We’re in for a long winter’s night.
YOU’LL NEVER THINK ABOUT ABORTION THE SAME WAY AGAIN.