They’ve only been back in session less than a week, but the GOP-run House and Senate have come out, guns-a-blazing, ready to destroy what’s left of our reproductive rights.
When Republicans took control of both houses of Congress last November, women across the country felt a slight twinge in their uteruses—and with good reason. Over the past four years, states have enacted 231 pieces of anti-choice legislation. Last year alone, 15 states signed 26 new abortion restrictions into law, and 57 percent of women live in states that the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health non-profit, has deemed hostile towards abortion rights. With Republicans now firmly in control of the House and Senate, the abortion restrictions we’ve seen at the state level are about the get their moment in the national spotlight. Welcome to the 114th United States Congress—where no uterus will be left behind.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale 500
The echoes of the gavel were still ringing through the House chamber on Monday when Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sprinted toward the podium to introduce a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. In a “post-race interview,” Rep. Blackburn said, “I think we have a good bill out there. Our crew was top-notch and we had a smooth ride coming out of the chamber pit. A few more races like this and we’ll be bringing home the trophy.” Rep. Blackburn then turned and doused Rep. Franks with Gatorade.
2. Life (and Hookers!) For Me, But Not For Thee
On Wednesday, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced not one, not two, but FOUR pieces of anti-choice legislation, including a bill that would allow medical professionals to refuse to perform abortions, even in cases of emergencies. If you’re thinking this doesn’t seem very “pro-life,” please remember that Sen. Vitter has waged war against marriage equality while violating the sanctity of his own marriage with an assortment of prostitutes. Consistency is not Senator Vitter’s strong suit.
3. The Phyllis Schlafly Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Act
With five pieces of anti-choice legislation introduced in the first 48 hours of the new congressional year, 2015 is looking like another harsh year for women. Thank goodness everyone’s favorite miserable relic has our backs. When asked how to reduce the number of sexual assaults pervading college campuses, 218-year old Phyllis Schlafly suggested eliminating student loans and restricting the number of women admitted to college. This would appeal greatly to the legislative haters of the Paycheck Fairness Act; the fewer women allowed into college, the less those women will bitch and complain about the disparity in pay since they won’t be able to find living wage jobs. Win-win!
4. Defund All the Things
There are three things guaranteed in this life: death, taxes, and a GOP-controlled Congress attempting to defund Planned Parenthood. Included in Senator Vitter’s fruit basket of anti-choice proposals is a bill that would do exactly that. And on Thursday, more than 80 House Republicans introduced their version of the bill. What would defunding Planned Parenthood do? It would drastically reduce access to contraception, screening for and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, and basic health care. What it won’t do is reduce the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood. Why? Because Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal funds for abortion care BY LAW. A law that’s been in place since 1976. So this Congress will spend an untold number of hours decrying the evils of Planned Parenthood in an attempt to strip their federal funding which would inhibit access to contraception which would increase the number of unintended pregnancies, thereby increasing the number of non-tax payer funded abortions at Planned Parenthood. Anti-Choice Logic 101.
5. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Women’s reproductive rights have been turned into a twisted game of Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better. At the state level we’ve seen proposals of abortions banned after six weeks, abortion permission slips, flat-out denials of the right to an abortion, and a whole host of other anti-choice madness. While it’s easy (and even necessary) for me to take a satiric tone here, what this all boils down to is the right of women to live their lives as they see fit, and not at the mercy nor the whim of an elected official hoping to score points with the big donors back home. Our physical autonomy is at stake—control over our actual bodies. And when you don’t vote and you don’t fight, you surrender your agency to the powers that be: these guys.
What could possibly go wrong?
Gina Loukareas is a Boston-based writer, social media strategist, and activist. She’s one of the co-founders of A is For…, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting reproductive rights.
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