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Monday, September 30, 2013

Documenting the attack on reproductive rights - and how to fight back

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that banning abortion violates a woman’s right to privacy, those seeking to deny women control over their own bodies have sought to change state and federal laws to chip away at that right.

Today, Alliance for Justice zeros in on the threat to reproductive rights as we launch our  annual “First Monday” social justice campaign.  Alliance for Justice has been canvassing the field in the battleground states of Texas and Mississippi, listening to women’s stories and witnessing the day-to-day struggles of women who are watching their reproductive rights slip away.  The centerpiece of the campaign is a short video, Roe at Risk: The Fight for Reproductive Justice, documenting both the struggle and the hope of the men and women fighting to preserve the constitutional right to reproductive freedom and justice.  It is more important now than ever to take action, to speak out, and to organize for reproductive rights and access for all.

You can preview the video here:

Today also marks the 37th anniversary of one of the first attempts to restrict reproductive rights: the Hyde Amendment, a law that,bars states from using  Medicaid money to fund abortion.  Many poor people rely on Medicaid to pay for their health care.  So while it’s true that  the Hyde Amendment does not, technically, eliminate the right to abortion, it  renders that right largely meaningless for the many poor and low-income women who simply cannot afford to pay for an abortion on their own.  For such women it amounts to a legislative repeal of a constitutional right.

The late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.,
author of the Hyde Amendment
And as we show in Roe at Risk, while the federal government took one of the first steps to cut off access to abortion 37  years ago, states have been following suit ever since.  In recent years, some state lawmakers have been transparent in their attempts to deny access to abortion, directly attacking the right with legislation that makes abortion unlawful after a set period of time.  Such attempts have taken the shape of bans that begin at twenty-weeks, at twelve weeks or at six weeks.

In other states, restrictions on access to abortion have been more insidious.  One of the popular approaches is to pass “TRAP” laws, which stand for “targeted regulation of abortion providers.”  These laws often require abortion providers to attain admitting privileges at a local hospital, or require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as hospitals or ambulatory facilities.

TRAP laws are passed under the pretext of protecting women’s health and safety, but in reality they are thinly veiled attempts to shut down abortion clinics.  For example, hospitals typically are not  required to grant admitting privileges, and if they oppose abortion, they do not have to grant admitting privileges to abortion providers at all. Moreover, the requirements to attain admitting privileges vary and may be impossible for abortion providers to obtain for reasons wholly unrelated to health or safety.

Predictably, abortion clinics often cannot meet the laws’ unnecessary requirements, and then they are forced to shut down.  When clinics shut down, women are left stranded.  Ultimately, these TRAP laws have one purpose and one effect: to end abortion in the state.

Roe at Risk doesn’t just document the threat – it also shows how people across the country are fighting back.  Find out more about attempts to curb the right to choose, and about what you can do about it at www.roeatrisk.org 

Read more about the harm of the Hyde Amendment:

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