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9 New Laws in the GOP's War Against Women

Shaming women is more important to Republicans than tackling the economic crisis or any of the myriad problems facing Americans. The consequences for women's health are dire.

Republicans sure have interesting priorities. Even though they got elected on a fiscal agenda and arrived in legislatures and congress with a budget crisis and a nation staring down unemployment, they’ve  decided to put policing women’s bodies on the top of their agenda. You’ve probably heard about the unbelievably dismal new bill in Congress which would drastically curb abortion coverage and most alarmingly, redefine rape as only “forcible.” It’s cruel and draconian, to say the least, and on twitter, the #Dearjohn hashtag is building momentum against this horrible bill.  

But this bill is not a stand-alone attack--in fact, it’s part of a broad-reaching movement from state legislatures to curb abortion access and insurance coverage, place hurdles before and infantilize women with ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and generally prove that shaming women is much more important to Republicans than tackling the economic crisis or any of the myriad other problems facing Americans today.

All across the country, legislatures are moving abortion restrictions forward on the docket, and although there are a few bright spots, overall the picture is pretty grim. Even the New York Times editorial board is up in arms after its own paper’s story on the subject, offering us some frightening statistics:

Twenty-nine governors are considered solidly anti-abortion, up from 21 before the election. In 15 states, both the legislature and the governor are anti-abortion, compared with 10 last year. This math greatly increases the prospect of extreme efforts to undermine abortion access with Big Brother measures that require physicians to read scripts about fetal development and provide ultrasound images, and that impose mandatory waiting periods or create other unnecessary regulations.

The following pieces of legislation are not the only efforts that could quash women’s rights this year, but they are indicative of a bold, cruel and determined Republican-led movement happening across the country. If successful, these laws will make it unimaginably more difficult for women to access basic health care.

In Kansas: Republican state Rep. Lance Kinzer introduced a bill this month that would require women under the age of 18 to receive the explicit consent of both her parents before seeking an abortion. Exceptions will only be made in cases where “family sexual abuse is involved,” and even then women will need the approval of one parent, according to the Kansas Reporter. The bill’s supporters cite false and misleading data about how young women who have abortions are more likely to have mental health issues than those who carry their pregnancies to term -- when in fact, the exact opposite is true.

What’s more, the Times reports that Kansas’ new governor, former Sen. Sam Brownback, plans to lead the state legislature in adopting measures that were previously vetoed by his less conservative successors, “including regulations that will make it harder to open abortion clinics or to perform abortions in the second trimester.”

In Texas: Governor Rick Perry has declared that a bill which mandates that women seeking abortions undergo forced ultrasounds is an “emergency” priority--literally. He’s actually hinted to anti-choicers in the state that he’ll put the bill on an actual emergency fast-track for passage, even though the state is facing a huge budget crisis of epic proportions. And he’s doing this even though he’s previously threatened to secede due to excessive government oversight of his state. Apparently oversight of states is not okay, but oversight of women’s bodies is. Hypocrite, much?

In Arkansas: A troubling bill that’s now on its way to the state Senate floor would severely limit abortion coverage under private insurance plans. CNBC reports that the proposed bill “takes advantage of a part of the federal health care overhaul that allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans in the new insurance exchanges,”  and, if passed, would require women to purchase a special rider or policy if they ever plan to get an abortion. Similar laws have already been enacted in several other states, but as National Abortion Federation president Vicki Saporta notes, “Telling a woman to buy a separate abortion rider that doesn't even currently exist is not an answer.”