News & Politics

John Oliver: Mississippi Now Has Four Times as Many S's as Abortion Clinics

The late-night host scolded legislators enacting so-called TRAP laws for abortion clinics.

Photo Credit: Last Week Tonight/YouTube

Abortions are not breast implants, John Oliver rightly pointed out on Sunday night's show. They are not an optional or cavalier cosmetic procedure, and in fact, most Americans believe abortions should be legal in at least some circumstances. Only 19% of Americans believe abortion should be completely illegal, according to a Gallup poll last year.
"And if you are in that 19 percent, you are frankly excused from watching the rest of this," Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, told his audience.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of views about the issue, abortion laws should concern you. Since 2010, new state laws have contributed to the closure of about 70 abortion clinics nationwide. Four states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Mississippi—are down to one abortion clinic each.
"That's right, Mississippi now has four times as many S's as it has abortion clinics," Oliver emphasized. 
How is that possible? Well, the key Supreme Court decision concerning abortion laws is no longer Roe v. Wade. It's the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling that said states can create restrictions as long as they don't place, "an undue burden… in the path of a woman seeking an abortion." 
Obviously, there is a lot of room for interpretation there, and some state legislatures have ensured that women seeking abortions, or just reproductive health care, have a few more hoops to jump through, which "may sound a little less insulting if they weren't the same rules for a dog agility course," said Oliver.
This has led states to introduce dozens of TRAP, or targeted regulation of abortion provider laws. While legislators claim these TRAP laws are to protect women's health, they end up doing just the opposite. 
"You're not fooling anyone," John Oliver tells them. "You just asking more questions than you're answering." Texas's HB-2 for example, passed in 2013, had two key stipulations. Wonder why they're so ridiculous?
Watch the full segment to learn more:


Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.