5 Dirty Tricks Right-Wing Zealots Will Likely Try Next in Their Battle to Control Women
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2011 was just a warm-up year for this approach. Look for more states to bring forward bills banning insurance plans that cover abortion from state exchanges. If this is successful, expect anti-choicers to start looking for other ways to keep women from being able to afford abortions. Since they’ve already started to attack the funding for non-abortion services offered by public clinics that also offer abortions, it’s just a matter of time before they start looking for ways to cut off private funding for non-abortion gynecological care performed by doctors who also perform abortions. Potential avenues include looking to add nuisance taxes to abortion care or seeking to ban any provider who performs abortion from billing insurance companies for any non-abortion care offered to patients.
3. Quietly but firmly squeezing Planned Parenthood. One of the big failures of the anti-choice movement in 2011 was the attempt to kill off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, funding which is used strictly for providing contraception and other forms of non-abortion reproductive health care. But there’s no reason to think this loss will be viewed as anything more than a setback for anti-choicers. After all, Republicans have devised a situation on the Hill that allows them to refight the budget battle every few months by threatening a government shutdown; the Planned Parenthood fight may re-emerge.
More importantly, Planned Parenthood -- and other family planning clinics that receive government subsidies -- is being quietly defunded in states under Republican control. Texas has provided a model of quietly cutting off contraception funding to thousands of women that anti-choice legislators around the country are no doubt looking to with interest. If they are successful at cutting off low-income women’s access to contraception, we can expect to see a surge in unintended pregnancies in red states, while blue states continue to see a decline.
4. A criminalizing crackdown on women. As I reported earlier this month, there’s been a couple of incidents where women who have aborted at home on their own are facing criminal charges. Right now, these are isolated incidences. Soon, they will likely become a systemic crackdown. More attention is being paid to the already-existing black market in drugs and herbs that are used to induce abortion, even though the practice has been going on for years in this country, mainly in immigrant communities. As access to abortion becomes more difficult, those practices are likely to expand beyond those communities. Anti-choicers are already clearly worried about women aborting at home. Anti-choice legislators are already pretending that women who communicate with doctors online while using abortion drugs are in some kind of danger, with an eye toward banning the practice. States like Arizona and North Dakota have already banned the practice, though the ban has been tied up in court in North Dakota .
If women living in isolation can’t contact a doctor online when using an abortion drug, the odds are that many to most of them will simply choose to use the drug with no supervision whatsoever. At this point, anti-choice lawmakers will have no one else to punish but the women themselves. Abortion drugs are only growing in popularity, so expect to see a big push in 2012 to arrest more women who obtain and use them without a doctor’s supervision, especially in states where the law makes getting that doctor’s supervision nearly impossible.
5. Some state declaring fertilized eggs 'persons.' The personhood amendment was voted down in Mississippi and in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean supporters have given up. On the contrary, Personhood USA was able to hold a presidential debate amongst many of the Republican candidates, and they’re fighting to get personhood amendments onto more ballots . By slowly chipping away, they’ve successfully managed to garner enthusiasm for the idea that women who aren’t even pregnant can get “abortions” by using the pill or an IUD, as well as suggesting that it’s entirely reasonable to allow women to die from treatable conditions if doing so would end a pregnancy. This persistence will likely pay off, if they get it on the ballot in the right state at the right time. It could be as soon as next year.