In recognition of women’s equality day later this week, National Women’s Law Center and numerous other women’s groups across the country are discussing the top ten important and historic laws for women’s lives. Unfortunately, we aren’t in a place where we can celebrate women’s equality day or any of the ten highlighted laws – because ALL of them are currently at risk. ALL OF THEM.
It is often said that the younger generation of feminists don’t truly understand the importance of the Roe v. Wade decision, in part because we’ve never been faced with the realities of illegal abortion. And while I tend to disagree with that assessment, unfortunately, our abortion rights are under attack and some of the main tenets of Roe are being threatened both at the state and federal levels.
This year we’ve seen a record number of anti-choice bills being both proposed, and unfortunately, also passed in the states. These bills ranged from prohibiting coverage of abortion in the health care Exchanges being set up through the Affordable Care Act, laws limiting women’s access to abortion due to “fetal pain” or the presence of the fetal heartbeat, to name just a few. These attacks are happening in tandem with additional attacks on women’s access to reproductive health care, most notably, the attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood health clinics across the country.
On the federal level, the attacks have been fast and furious as well. In February, we were able to battle back a ban on Planned Parenthood funding nationwide. In April, the DC Abortion Ban was put back into place during the federal budget negotiation. In May, the House passed a sweeping bill, H.R. 3, that not only would limit women’s ability to access abortion services, but would also tax individuals and small business owners buying private insurance plans that cover abortion. And these are just a few of the federal attacks to women’s right to abortion in the 112th Congress.
If we can learn anything from this, it is that these attacks are far from over. We need to gear up for continued attacks to women’s access to abortion on the state and federal level. And we need to be ready to say that we will not go back to a time when women needed to use an underground network to find an illegal abortion, and wonder whether it was actually safe. Unfortunately, we’re closer to that time than we’d like to think.
Usually I like that Rachel Maddow is always right, but this week, while spot on, I just wish she wasn’t – “…I’m telling you, 2011 will go down in history as the year where we had the biggest roll back to abortion rights in America since Roe versus Wade.”
This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.