The last five years have been a super disaster for women’s rights. All across America, lawmakers have been carving away at a woman’s right to authority over her own body. The last five years account for more than 1/4 of all abortion restrictions enacted since Roe V Wade.
Yes, you read that correctly.
“In the 43 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, states have enacted 1,074 abortion restrictions. Of these, 288 (27%) have been enacted just since 2010. This gives the last five years the dubious distinction of accounting for more abortion restrictions than during any other single five-year period since Roe,” the Guttmacher Institute determined in a statement, based on a policy review of reproductive rights by Elizabeth Nash, Rachel Benson Gold, Gwendolyn Rathbun and Zohra Ansari-Thomas for Guttmacher .
We are going backward at warp speed, thanks to extremist Republican lawmakers, many of whom were ushered in on a Tea Party tidal wave. And yet the Tea Party is generally loathed by Americans. So our laws are being made by people with whom most of us disagree.
“Infographic: More than one-quarter of the 1,074 state abortion restrictions since Roe v. Wade were enacted between 2011 and 2015,” per Guttmacher.
Things are so bad that 2015 earned a dubious honor of being general crap for women’s rights, as “lawmakers considered 514 provisions related to abortion; the vast majority of these measures—396 in 46 states—sought to restrict access to abortion services” according to Guttmacher.
Hold on for the stats:
Including the 57 abortion restrictions enacted in 2015, states have adopted 288 abortion restrictions just since the 2010 midterm elections swept abortion opponents into power in state capitals across the country. To put that number in context, states adopted nearly as many abortion restrictions during the last five years (288 enacted 2011-2015) as during the entire previous 15 years (292 enacted 1995-2010). Moreover, the sheer number of new restrictions enacted in 2015 makes it clear that this sustained assault on abortion access shows no signs of abating.
Thirty-one states—spanning all regions of the country—enacted at least one abortion restriction during the last five years. The 10 states that enacted at least 10 new restrictions together account for 173, or 60% of the 288 new abortion restrictions adopted over the last five years. These states are overwhelmingly located in the South and the Midwest, and it is likely that access to services for women in these regions has been impacted significantly. Four states—Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma—each enacted at least 20 new abortion restrictions, making this handful of states, which together adopted 94 new restrictions, responsible for a third of all abortion restrictions enacted nationwide over the last five years. Kansas has the dubious distinction of leading the pack with 30 new abortion restrictions since 2010.
Holy backward nation — this is what gerrymandering has wrought. Partisan extremists are running the show. (President Obama called for an end to this trickery last night during his last State of the Union address, along with campaign finance reform- both of which would go a long way toward helping women get some of their rights back.)
The correct direction to go in is to expand human rights, not limit them. To this end, 2016 Presidential candidate Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for an end to the Hyde Amendment. This is important because the Hyde Amendment basically means that only women with money can have access to abortions, since the Hyde Amendment restricts federal money from being spent on abortion.
Watch Clinton here:
No right is really a right when it’s only guaranteed to people with access to money and power, but that is exactly what these mostly Republican lawmakers are doing. The women in their lives will always have access to abortion. They have the money and the means to fly out of state if need be, and pay with cash.
Poor women, the women who arguably most need control over their bodies and family planning, do not have such rights. Medicaid can’t pay for an abortion and no federal money helps Planned Parenthood out for abortion services, so poor women are left vulnerable to the whims of a rapist and the failure of birth control.
Republicans have this country going backward so fast we can’t even keep up. Women’s “issues” don’t get a lot of press, but the press is made up of mostly men. So we have a situation where mostly male lawmakers are limiting women’s rights in alarming and drastic ways, and a mostly male press gives it a cursory nod when needed, but mostly it’s a “meh” filed under “partisan politics”.
For those of us whose lives are actually impacted, and that is about half of people in this country ironically, this is not partisan politics. This is life or death.
Times like this show most clearly why we need more women in government and in the press. Republicans love to accuse Hillary Clinton of playing the gender card, but who else is looking out for half of the population? If they claim there is no difference, they should please proceed immediately to expanding women’s health and safety rights.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.