The House of Representatives voted to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood Sept. 18, attempting to cut off an organization that provides family planning and reproductive health services to more than five million Americans each year. The legislation stands little chance of passing, since it is likely to be overturned by Senate Democrats, and President Barack Obama has already promised a veto should it reach his office. That said, the vote still sends an alarming symbolic message, and is just the latest development in what has become a full-fledged conservative attack on women’s health and reproductive rights.
The clearest indication of how the number of women’s reproductive rights is rapidly diminishing is the ever-expanding number of abortion restrictions on the state level. In 2015 alone, states have enacted 51 new restrictions, bringing the grand total of new abortion restrictions since 2010 up to a whopping 282. The plethora of restrictions all serve to chip away at the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which confirmed abortion as a constitutional right. In creating these constraints at a state level, legislators are skirting the national precedent and attempting to make it near impossible for women to have access to safe abortions in particular states. In 35 states, women must receive counseling prior to an abortion being performed, and in 27 of these states there is a mandated waiting period between the counseling and the procedure, usually 24 hours, necessitating two trips to the facility. Other distressing new restrictions include the 12 states that require women be told of the fetus’ ability to feel pain, and the five states that require a woman to be told before her abortion that personhood begins at conception.
No woman should have to be subject to this type of treatment simply because she is seeking a legal abortion. This goes hand in hand with the importance of Planned Parenthood, which provides healthcare services to women even in states where the restrictions are most limiting and abortions are hardest to come by.
The hostile, anti-woman political climate becomes more apparent each and every day as Republicans continue to spread their rhetoric. A cursory glance at recent comments made by GOP presidential candidates is proof of this — Carly Fiorina has made claims about a Planned Parenthood video depicting a “fully formed fetus” — footage which simply doesn’t exist. In a recent debate, former Mike Huckabee compared abortion to slavery, a nonsensical comparison, given that he has no experience with either.
The future of women’s reproductive rights is in peril. Now more than ever it’s imperative that women remain informed and active about their own rights. Through education and activism, the message to Republicans will be loud and clear come election season — women’s rights are not up for debate.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Email Annie Cohen at [email protected]