Have Mitt Romney and Barack Obama Forgotten That Women Exist -- And That They Have the Vote?
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Where have those good old days gone?
Doors to Clinics Closing
The idea that women’s rights are at stake in this election is far from abstract. Between the economy closing some clinics and the right-wing closing others, the long-feared return to “before Roe” conditions is closer than ever. Recently, Business Week ran a sobering story about the new "world before Roe" that describes the “arduous” long trips, high costs and disruptive waiting periods required of women who get abortions in many areas.
All this is already happening under an Obama administration. So yes, while there’s the issue of Supreme Court vacancies and the future of Roe v. Wade, as well as the facets of Obamacare that improve women’s health and prevent insurance discrimination against them there are also state-specific remnants of the vicious 2011-2012 series of laws and measures commonly called the “War on Women” which have resulted in clinics actually closing, services ending, and those seeking care being left out in the cold.
- Virginia clinics are facing a legal back and forth over "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers," or TRAP laws that are often accompanied in stories with the word “onerous” because they force clinics to adhere to the same specifications as hospitals. If the election goes to the GOP in Virginia, all or most of its abortion providers may close down.
- Texas’ health services for women have been absolutely decimated, as Andrea Grimes discovered, thanks to the state’s defunding of Title X Family Planning programs. Grimes called around to try to get the kind of Medicaid-backed care the state said would be available without Planned Parenthood and found that “excluding Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program absolutely reduces access to quality care. Full stop...the systems [Texas] says it has in place to support women without Planned Parenthood don't work.”
- Mississippi’s lone clinic is also running out of time thanks to TRAP laws, meaning the state could be the first without a single abortion provider.
- Arizona’s TRAP laws and late-term abortion ban are now forcing rural women in that state to travel for hours, sometimes over the border to Mexico, to obtain services.
- Even in Brooklyn, New York, a clinic closed its doors, dogged by protesters and high costs associated with the recession.
Lest the public start forgetting the "war on women" just because it was out of the headlines, Lizz Winstead made a video explaining how disruptive all these laws are for the everyday lives of patients:
Winstead is right. Whether or not Obama squandered his sizeable lead with women at the first debate, women---and people of all gender orientations who need reproductive healthcare, access and freedom--need politicians who are on their side. The damage done by the last wave of ultraconservative legislation remains. It hasn’t been undone. That message needs to be repeated again and again, along with this one, from Ilyse Hogue: “All aspects of our lives get categorically more difficult when we lose control over decisions about family planning and reproduction.”
Some Are Speaking Out
Still, not all voices are silent right now. Apparently celebrities like Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon are getting as annoyed as us progressive journos, and speaking out about reproductive rights, as the new "Draw the Line" campaign and video from the Center for Reproductive Rights (below) shows. But the politicians shouldn't leave the line-drawing to Hollywood.
That's why groups like Ultraviolet and the ACLU are urging members to flood the forum that funnels questions from the public to the debate moderators, asking them to address women's issues in the next presidential debate. "We can't let the final domestic policy debate go by without these important issues being addressed," my email from Ultraviolet read. "Women are 52% of the population, and all of these issues impact not just women, but our families, the economy, and all of society."