I’m being sarcastic when I say I’m surprised that Republicans across the nation are using their positions of power to take valuable health care resources away from women in their states. In fact I’m totally just kidding. I’m not surprised at all.
In fact, this make 100 percent sense since the GOP has been waging war on women for quite some time now. And it’s still about the same thing: reproductive justice. And I’m calling it that because I get it, sometimes it is weird that queer women care about abortion, but the ability to control our bodies is getting serious: bills that de-fund Planned Parenthood and are called “The Heartbeat Bill” are coming to state politics near you. This isn’t just about abortion: it’s about the fact that our bodies are being controlled and policed by bodies that don’t look, sound, or live like us. And they aren’t on our side.
Elections are coming this November and the United States looks like this:
(In case this is hard to decipher, deep purple means bans on abortion already exist. Lavender means abortion coverage is in danger. And grey means it will be soon.)
I’m going to cover abortion bans state-by-state that are happening right now, right this moment, to bodies in that state.
Kansas Almost Lost All Its Abortion Providers
New licensing regulations in Kansas were shutting down abortion clinics and putting Kansas at risk of becoming the first state in which zero abortion providers exist.
This is obviously because zero unplanned pregnancies and zero cases of pregnancy from rape and incest will occur in Kansas this year, right? Like, that’s the only way, right?
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a law early this June forcing abortion providers to meet new regulations – a ton of them. They include provisions on the size of Janitor’s Closets, and the temperature. The checklist is over 200 items and 30 pages long. And abortion providers had until July 1 – two weeks from when the new guidelines were released – to meet them all.
Luckily at the very last minute, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia issued an order to temporarily block Kansas from enforcing new rules for its abortion providers.
Planned Parenthood was able to snag a license late Thursday but The Center for Women’s Health had doctors cancel the inspection because “they know they won’t get approved.” But Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, who run the center, disagree, and their lawsuit is what inspired Murguia’s temporary block.
And it might be causing a tide of similar lawsuits from the other applicants:
The suit calls the new rules “ambiguous and unclear” and says the law imposes, “burdensome and costly requirements that are not medically necessary or appropriate and that are not imposed on Kansas medical providers performing other comparable procedures.”
Anti-choice activists say that the clinics are just trying to get around the law because they all failed to meet “minimum health and safety standards.” Obviously abortions can’t safely be performed in a facility that doesn’t have a toilet in the staff dressing room.
Aid for Women is expected to file its own lawsuit today, and the Overland Park Planned Parenthood is considering doing the same, even though its license application is still pending. All three abortion clinics are in the Kansas City area, and an attorney representing the Center for Women’s Health notes that if they’re shut down, the nearest location for a woman to receive a first-trimester abortion would be Columbia, Missouri, and the nearest location for a second-trimester abortion would be St. Louis. That means a woman living in central Kansas would have to drive about six hours or eight hours to get a safe and legal abortion.
Six or eight hours to get a safe and legal abortion. Does that sound like zero?
Texas Wants Planned Parenthood to Work Hard for the Money
The reason Kansas’ government is using a 200-item checklist to take abortion care away from women is because it’s difficult to actually straight-up defund a Planned Parenthood. That sounds surprising, since so many Planned Parenthood attacks have occured recently. But federally, blocking Planned Parenthood money is very hard, because PP provides much more than abortions. Plus, there’s that whole Hyde Amendment thing that makes federally funded abortions impossible, not that any lawmakers have heard of it. And in Texas, PP patients have been paying for their own abortions since 2005.
Planned Parenthood, in fact, actually provides many women in Texas access to cancer and diabetes screenings. And since it’s all they could get, Texas lawmakers passed two measures this month eliminating those by getting rid of the state’s family planning program. That’s not zero abortion clinics: that’s 300,000 women losing access to life-saving resources at reasonable costs.
Texas Governor Rick Perry reduced the state budget for family planning from $111 million to $37 million. Obviously not a big deal. And then this Monday state lawmakers put Planned Parenthood on the bottom of a new tiered distribution system for those funds. So what does this mean for horrible cancer and diabetes screening providers Planned Parenthood? Well:
“It doesn’t completely defund us, but it puts the agency in a position where they have to put us third in line for the money,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of South Texas. “And it’s not only us that’s in the third tier — it’s all the traditional family planning providers that don’t provide comprehensive care, many in rural areas. So it’s the hard to reach population that’s really being affected by this.”
Texas Planned Parenthood offices have two avenues through which they receive state and federal money: the Women’s Health Program (WHP), which is funded by Medicaid, and the state family planning program, which is funded by the Title X federal grant program. In addition to putting private providers like Planned Parenthood last in line for Title X funds, GOP lawmakers inserted language into the new Medicaid bill that will prevent WHP money from going to any entity that provides abortions or is affiliated with an abortion provider.
Half of 120,000 low-income women that use the WHP do so through their local Planned Parenthood clinic. Does that sound like zero or like 60,000 women who can’t afford other forms of care and now have nothing to rely on?
And even what they rely on is running short as Republicans cut back on medical providers across the state:
“If they’re gonna kick Planned Parenthood out of the program, then all of these women going to a Planned Parenthood clinic are gonna have to go to another provider — and these providers are already operating at capacity,” Gutierrez told HuffPost.
Texas is probably breaking federal Medicaid rules by discriminating against Planned Parenthood – and if the state is found guilty of doing so they’ll lose up to 150 million federal family planning dollars. It’s a lose-lose, and guess who isn’t winning? Women.
The Only Good Thing in Texas now is that the Center for Reproductive Rights has filed an injunction against the state for its abortion practices, outlined in new, recent legislation. Thank Whoever, because Texas abortion providers are now required to give women sonograms prior to their procedure and describe their fetus in great detail. Clearly this is to make the process more streamlined, efficient, and pleasant for women. I think the best part is when she gets to listen to the heartbeat. And of course there is now a waiting period, of up to 72 hours.
The lawsuit accuses the state of imposing political requirements on doctors, thus “hijacking” the patient/doctor relationship. (Doctors who do not comply will be stripped of their licenses.) Oh, and they think the new regulations are sexist. Cross your fingers and keep them crossed, because this lawsuit might make bring an end to a recent tidal wave of mandatory sonogram laws across the nation.
Ohio Seemed Irrelevant Until “The Heartbeat Bill”
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news in this case. It’s really bad news. It feels overwhelming, right? But don’t worry. The people trying to take women’s health care away are also responsible for this badly-produced, way-too-dramatic ad about how a fetus that isn’t a baby yet has a heartbeat and therefore you should buy balloons for them. It’s tacky, so I feel bad. It just could have been so much better if it had never happened at all:
The Ohio House passed this bill 54-43, and it’s the most restrictive abortion law on the books. Detection of a heartbeat? That does not sound like Roe v. Wade. And that’s probably because the lawmakers working on it are blatantly ignoring the existing precedent from the 1973 case, which is viability, and are instead calling on fetuses to testify about abortion in court.
The state senate is next, and then the Governor’s desk. I hope that by this point you understand what I’m trying to say. Governors suck. And so do these measures.
Two representatives in the state said it right about this one:
Said pro-choice State Representative Connie Pillich on the floor, “The only jobs this bill will create is back alley butchers who are sharpening their knives,” according to Planned Parenthood of Ohio’s Twitter feed.
And another representative addressed anti-choice members: “You should feel uncomfortable about this vote. A fetus now has more rights than a woman.”
Indiana Isn’t Defunding Planned Parenthood… Yet
Tanya Walton Pratt is saving Indiana from really embarrassing themselves. She’s a federal judge who ruled last Friday that Indiana could not, in fact, cut off Planned Parenthood funding because it provides health care to low-income women. She explained that the law conflicts with Medicaid policies that allow beneficiaries to choose their health care providers. And that’s what Planned Parenthood is: a health care provider. Not an abortion clinic and not a political tool. A health care provider.
“States do not have carte blanche to expel otherwise competent Medicaid providers,” Judge Pratt said. And “there are no allegations that Planned Parenthood of Indiana is incompetent or that it provides inappropriate or inadequate care.”
The law has been in effect since it was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on May 10. But as of June 20, Planned Parenthood of Indiana had stopped treating Medicaid patients and laid off two of three specialists in sexually transmitted diseases. Very few PP services involve abortion. Why doesn’t anyone but Judge Pratt know that?
Now it’s becoming Texas Part Two in the Hoosier state, where Planned Parenthood of Indiana and two of its patients have filed a lawsuit challenging the new restrictions. They call them “a blatant violation” of federal law. They’re right.
And a similar lose-lose to Texas, Indiana is risking losing over $5 billion annually in Medicaid funds. And guess what? Know who is still losing? Women. Judge Pratt said:
“Denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse. And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle.”
The Good News Is One Judge Prevented South Dakota From Being As Shitty
South Dakota Republicans were working hard to continue the anti-choice, anti-woman GOP strategy when out of nowhere, pow! boom!, came Chief Judge Karen Schreier to destroy the attempt. You can thank Bill Clinton, who appointed her. I’m going to put in a picture of Hillary Clinton caring about women’s rights now because I love her.
South Dakota was about to get a new fun abortion law that, as of yesterday, would have created a 72-hour waiting period before women underwent the process, the longest in the nation. Even better, it also included a forced visit to a crisis pregnancy center. This is an offensive slap to feminism and the pro-choice movement, considering CPCs distribute misleading and often religious-based information that shames and lies to women about their health choices and options.
South Dakota’s Governor, Dennis Daugaard, signed the law hoping “women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices,” since he is better at making choices than they are. Judge Schreier struck down the law for putting “an undue burden” on women and forcing them to go to a religious, non-medical third party. But that wasn’t all she said. She also asserted that the law was degarding to women, and her decision was the kind of thing that makes feminists sick of all of these weird laws and restrictions on our freedom all fuzzy inside:
“Forcing a woman to divulge to a stranger at a pregnancy help center the fact that she has chosen to undergo an abortion humiliates and degrades her as a human being. The woman will feel degraded by the compulsive nature of the Pregnancy Help Center requirements, which suggest that she has made the ‘wrong’ decision, has not really ‘thought’ about her decision to undergo an abortion, or is ‘not intelligent enough’ to make the decision with the advice of a physician. Furthermore, these women are forced into a hostile environment.”
South Dakota’s attorney general, however, is still making a decision on the law.
Look, I know that we here at Autostraddle like to win. All I do is win. Seriously. I even know all the words. But this election season, women are losing – and it’s because the GOP is stopping at nothing to strip us of our right to lead healthy lives. This isn’t about abortion. It’s about our bodies, and the way the government controls them. We’re being told what to do by a bunch of old white dudes in states that don’t contribute much to our overall happiness as queer chicks anyway. So what can you do?
You can vote for someone else in November, and you can donate to Planned Parenthood, and you can speak up. Because I know, it’s sometimes just so weird that lesbians care about abortion. But this is about much more than whether or not you’re at risk to wake up pregnant after having lesbian sex. It’s about your right to be free from the consequences of rape and incest, and to determine how you treat your body. It’s about being allowed to make mistakes and have a vagina. It’s mostly, actually, about the right to have a vagina. A safe one. A happy one.
It’s about women. And we’re not winning.
Love the picture of the lady dressed as lady-parts
Oh, and by the way: Hey Republicans, how many jobs are you creating by waging war on women? You guys campaigned on job creation, remember?
the state of health care here in indiana is dismal at best, but when push comes to shove the people always comes through. I just hope things don’t escalate like they did in kansas. it’s scary knowing that (extremist) men think they know what’s best for women’s health
men think they know what’s best for everyone,
but all they ever created was capitalism.
i think they created status…..sometimes it seems like thats what it stems from
I’m doing my best to stay calm and rational but my brain is just SCREAMING this is all so horrific. Another reason on a rather long list to want out of Ohio.
I am trying to figure out what the Heartbeat Bill is about. It is clearly a power play. Anti-choice groups in Ohio including Ohio Right to Life are calling out Republicans on this because they see it as clearly unconstitutional and fear it will do more harm to their mission in the long run.
My best guess is that Republicans want this on the ballot in November 2012, to try and move their base to the polls to beat Obama. But I don’t know the statistics. Would that even make sense? It seems like there is a real threat of waking the Democratic voters who made Ohio blue in 2008. Does anyone know the stats on this? How do Ohio voters feel about abortion rights?
I want to feminist hulk rage all over the place. like bra burning, I want to do it. DFGKKFJDSKK.
Tiny itty bitty ray of hope: my state (North Carolina) recently tried to pass a bill that would require a 24 hour waiting period post ultrasound pic and I think a meeting with a counselor before they could get an abortion. But it got shut down when our governor was like WOAH HELLO UNNECESSARY GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. Like. I’m glad that’s still a thing that at least a few people in elected positions think. Because seriously, how is that not a thing?
Carmen, this was such a good article; thank you, thank you.
THIS SHIT IS CRAZY. Karen Shreier is one hell of an intelligent women, we need more like her.
thank you so much!
There was an anti-abortion protest and a pro-choice counter protest on here in Dublin today but sadly I couldnt make it cuz I was working. My brother’s girlfriend said there were a huge amount of children and men on the anti-abortion side, ridiculous. Abortion is illegal here already and the Catholics want to keep it that way.
Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s money goes to abortions. The rest is cancer screenings, birth control and other evillll services.
I chatted about this with a friend recently. The fact is, I don’t really like the idea of abortion and I loathe the idea of people using it as birth control. (Fact of the matter is, most women who get abortions are in their 20s.) I think straight people need to be a bit more damn careful and responsible. And I especially think abortions should be as done as early as possible in pregnancy and the more time passes, the less OK with it I am. That being said, a world where women cannot be provided safe, legal abortions is a scary one. I wonder where or when this battle will end, and I just don’t think it will. One side thinks a human life — a person — occurs very early on, if not immediately. One side does not. Those two sides just aren’t going to agree.
I think the goal should be to prevent the need for abortions, not ban the option. All sides should at least agree on that. Why can’t we start there? If we focuses all our efforts there, instead of the two sides battling, there would probably be less abortions without anyone’s rights being taken away.
I don’t understand how the fact that most of the people who get abortions are in their 20s means they are using it as birth control. There are many reasons people get abortions and I think it’s really simplistic to think women are using it as birth control. It’s easy to say straight people should act responsibly but us lesbians aren’t exactly renowned for having safe sex either. Even if we can’t get pregnant we are still at risk of STDs.
It’s pretty difficult to prevent the need for abortions when the other side does not believe in birth control and favours abstinence only education over comprehensive sex education which includes teaching about birth control.
I never said people who have abortions are using it as birth control. I said I don’t like it WHEN people use it as birth control. Big difference. My feeling is abortion should be treated as a last resort. As much as you may not like it, it is not always treated as a last resort. That is just a fact. I cringe whenever I see someone in their late 20s who has a perfectly stable life have an abortion because they were simply careless, only to have their first child a couple years later. It’s their choice, of course, but it’s not the 13-year-old girl example that is such an easy one to support. I would never tell a woman she has no choice when to start a family. Everyone should be able to choose when or if to have children. But I can’t fathom how people can be so irresponsible. Birth control pills are 97% effective. There’s also condoms and nature (fertility is highest when you’re ovulating). Anomalies happen, but more often carelessness does. Yes, I’m a lesbian, but I don’t think preventing pregnancies is rocket science either.
I think you are being a bit unfair to the other side. Yes, there are those who want to ban abortions and ban birth control. There are also those who want absolutely no restrictions on abortion at all. And then there’s the middle, which is where most people lie — it seems most people who have qualms (reservations, mixed feelings, less than 100% pro/against feelings) about abortion support contraception and a more realistic approach to sex education. I think you’re mischaracterizing the issues by saying “Well, how can we prevent abortions when everyone against abortion is against preventing unwanted pregnancies too!” That’s simply not true.
I guess I’m naive because I think there is some common ground in the middle that everyone can agree on. You’re saying I’m wrong. I don’t think I’m wrong just because you say so, but the fact that you think there is no common ground makes me think some people will just never see it. So yes, maybe I am wrong.
I don’t actually have a problem with abortions which are not a last resort. I think if you want an abortion and it is safe to have one you should be allowed to have one regardless of the reason why.
People are human. They make mistakes. They have unprotected sex. I think saying people are using abortion as a form of birth control is kind of inflammatory anyway, but maybe that’s just me. It insinuates that having an abortion is an easy decision that someone makes flippantly. Like Reese downthread said it’s not a decision taken lightly.
Of course you’re not going to think you’re wrong because I said you were. I wouldn’t expect you to. I don’t want to offend you, I just love a good debate and this is an issue that I have lots of feelings about. Honestly, I wish I thought you were right. I do think every person who is pro-choice would agree with you that prevantative measures, such as sex ed, are the best thing, but I have trouble believing that the vast majority of pro lifers (all of the people I have met who are pro life don’t believe in abortions for religious reasons and also don’t believe in birth control) would agree. I agree that there is common ground between those who are pro choice and those that are pro birth control/sex ed but may not be 100% pro choice. Most pro choicers are totally on board with preventative measures and are fighting to keep funding for places like Planned Parenthood who are engaged in providing services such as birth control options, as well as providing abortions. I do, however, think that you are going to keep getting high rates of unwanted pregnancies in places where abstinence is the only sex education. If I am not mistaken, there are many schools in the US who teach abstinence. I do not think common ground is ever going to be found with people who don’t believe in comprehensive and reaslistic sex ed and in my experience that seems to be a large number of the pro life camp.
I really don’t like the whole “abortion shouldn’t be used as birth control” thing, because abortion is birth control! It prevents birth. It’s an expensive, inconvenient and uncomfortable form of birth control and I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s an ideal first method.
61% of women who have abortions already have one or more children. According to Guttmacher, “Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.” Those all seem like pretty valid reasons to me. Do those reasons count as using it as birth control, or something different?
I definitely believe in prevention first, though. Sex ed and birth control for everyone!
Awesome article, Carmen. This whole situation is making me increasingly scared. VOTE IN 2012, PEOPLE!
i love you.
I love you too!
You should come be gay in Brazil. I miss you.
Ugh, this makes me so unbelievably mad. It is hard enough for someone to make the decision to have an abortion without the state putting more ridiculous obstacles in the way of women wanting to get one.
If you like poetry maybe you’ll like this, we do have a couple cool people in Oklahoma.
I’ve actually seen some abortions done and believe it or not they were all medically needed, not just another form of birth control. Enough reason for lesbians to care about abortion, I think.
If you need another reason to be annoyed here’s my favorite: people in Mexico (where Catholicism reigns) will help a woman get pregnant by “artificial” means but then not reduce any babies when all, let’s say 6 babies, don’t have any chance of survival. We’re not playing God if we’re getting women pregnant, right?
Nothing against Catholicism, it’s just what came to mind.
My favorite is that in my country (Brazil) abortion is a crime punishable by 1-3 years in jail for the woman and 8-10 years for the doctor. Latin American in general is a really fucked up place to get an abortion. At least abortion is now legal in Mexico City, and that is a first for Latin American countries.
The thing that irritates me the most about things like this is: 1. Do people honestly think that women take the decision to get an abortion LIGHTLY? “Oh, gee, well, I’ll get the groceries, get an abortion then maybe a pedicure.”
2. That people are so superficial that they think that Planned Parenthood does nothing but operate at a 24/7 abortion factory.
3. That this is an overt war against women and NOBODY FUCKING REALIZES
4. If upper or middle-class people were more affected, these cuts would not be made.
I’m going to go and knit a uterus costume now.
What really gets me is that any real discussion about this won’t happen as long as Republicans are trying to get elected. Even here in Kentucky, coverage of abortion is banned and Planned Parenthood can’t perform them because they get grants. And yet, the Republican candidate for governor is accusing the Democrats of supporting Planned Parenthood and handing out abortions. DEMOCRAT BABY KILLERS! It’s a blatant lie and it’s impossible.
Abortion has become far too big of a wedge issue. And even though it’s very sensitive and there are parts I don’t think the two sides will ever agree on, I think it could be a more workable situation if it wasn’t used for pandering and inflammatory political rhetoric. I think some don’t want any sort of common ground or agreement because that would take away the political firepower of the issue. Sigh.
*Coverage of abortion is banned. D’oh.
This is well said. And you’re right that class issues are used (not suprisingly) to divide and conquer women, as they’ve always been. I volunteer at a library and someone there, close to 90, had had an abortion long before Roe, and with her it was like my mother once told me, if you knew the right MD they’d simply call it something else and do the procedure. It was arbitrary and unfair, back-alley for some people and not others.
This article is great but the USSC standard is not “viability,” as in whether or not the fetus is self-sustaining, but whether the law imposes an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to get an abortion, which is weaker and more prone to restriction. It always worried me in Roe that (at least from what I recall when I read the case in law school 3-4 years ago) there were no hard standards on what viability was, that the goal post could be moved, which it was. The last time they ruled on abortion was 2007, and they upheld a state ban on D&E’s, which can be performed as early as the 12th week, as NOT being an undue burden. And they refused to require the state to provide a medical exception. And they also prattled on about the emotional heath of women and how the procedure was a trauma and that women were often ignorant or poorly informed in making the decision to have a D&E. It was dictum, mind you, but it was insulting. Like they were saving women from themselves.
i just bookmarked this for future reference. also, i’m in south texas and, jesus f. christ, i don’t know what we’d do without pp down here.
I think its really telling that the narrator in the video says ‘protection for every child in *his* mother’s womb’.
This shit is equal parts terrifying and infuriating. Thanks for the article.
I just want to set the whole fucking world on fire today. *sigh*
you guys, didn’t you know pp is the lenscrafters of abortions.
in more sane thoughts: you know that whole “silent majority” thing? i think i’ve discovered it. my parents and their friends in ohio are all secretly social liberals who just don’t care about politics because it doesn’t directly affect them. i’m constantly torn between being happy that there are so many rational people and wanting to scream because they’re not using their (sizeable) voice. thanks for the info carmen!
not to be arrogant and to say that it’s all better here, but god sometimes i’m glad i live in the netherlands and not in america..
how do you keep your sanity with all of this?
Word. Obviously, the chances of me getting an unwanted pregnancy are slim, but nobody is telling my sisters what to do with their bodies in Sweden.
I’d be going mad, raging.
I had to stop following these bills in the news because they made me feel ill and filled me with rage.
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A new Kansas state regulation might shutter the family planning industry in-state. The Associated Press states the State Rules and Regulations Board unanimously approved abortion restrictions that will bring KS that much nearer to becoming the first state in the nation without a single abortion company. Enforcement of the Kansas’ new abortion rules by the Department of Health and Environment can begin Friday. I found this here: New Kansas abortion rules will usurp the right to choose
I love how the second I clicked ‘play’ on the Heartbeat Bill video, a car alarm went off right under my window, blocking out all of the sound. I think it’s a sign.
Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU, Carmen.
I live in British Columbia and am so grateful that if I needed an abortion I would be able to get one – AND that there would be no protesters in front of the clinic or hospital (b/c of a law preventing them from harassing clinic clients and employees).
I am so so so horrified by all these terrible, hateful laws; I am thankful that there are folks like you and websites like AS willing to write about and publish the truth about this quickly worsening situation.
And I just wanted to add to your excellent post, that some queer women have sex with men (for many reasons, including that they really enjoy it), which could then result in pregnancy. And that some men can get pregnant, and that sometimes sex with a woman could result in pregnancy, if these men and women, respectively, happened to be trans (and/or trans*) and quite a few other conditions were met.
Thank you again, Carmen. You are a rock-star.
PS – word in politics is that another parental notification measure is going to be on the ballot in 2012 in California, even though it’s already been defeated three times here.
Why then? To draw out more conservative voters to the polls come election day.
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