I’m not sure whether or not this story can be categorized as good news or bad news. The limited nature of binaries fails us once again.
An…interesting new development in the history of Roe v. Wade has come to light this week, as a new FX documentary AKA Jane Roe about the woman known as Jane Roe was released. “Jane Roe” was the then-unnamed plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. Jane Roe was Norma McCorvey. McCorvey herself never actually got an abortion, but for years after, she was a part of the pro-choice movement. Then, in the ’90s, McCorvey suddenly flipped her stance and began speaking out against abortion. She claimed to be “born again” as an evangelical Christian, even despite her identity as a queer woman. A real bummer that we ultimately did hate to see.
Turns out that change of heart — like many elements of the anti-abortion rights movement — was all based on a lie.
In the film, McCorvey reveals that her shift to pro-life ideals in the 1990s was all a farce, and that she only claimed to be anti-abortion because she was paid. Yay?.
In AKA Jane Roe, a documentary about McCorvey’s complex life, she reveals why flipped and started doing live speeches for anti-abortion groups. “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say. It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress.” A tit for tat, as they say.
In the documentary, McCorvey wants to set the record straight while she has the chance — she passed away in 2017, before the movie was released. She says, “If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it choice,” she said in her colorful “deathbed confession.”
Aside from the fact that it’s not just “young” women who need to end pregnancies, I can only hope my last words include the phrase “no skin off my ass.”
McCorvey’s shift to the opposing side of the abortion movement was disappointing, but it wasn’t random. In one of the interviews in AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey explains the resentment she felt towards the left-wing feminists who often looked down on her. They felt she was too uneducated to give public speeches, and instead wanted to use her as a silent symbol for the movement, without ever really treating her as wholly human. Naturally, McCorvey was turned off by that.
McCorvey was, in fact, uneducated. She came from poverty, and had endured abuse throughout her life. She represented the kind of woman who is often left behind in America, especially when it comes to reproductive rights. And yet, the leftwing feminists who fought for her still didn’t treat her with respect. In a sense, they used her too, just as the evangelicals did. So, I guess McCorvey went to the people who were going to pay her.
There’s a lesson here, that I *hope* we can remember. On the left, we often claim to be for the working class, but too often, that’s just symbolic. And that is how we lose their support.
People don’t want to be part of a movement that looks down on them. Why would they? Food for thought!
Image: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
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It is with deep regret that I must inform you that the term “abortion murder” is a thing.
The term reads like an attempt to psychically coax people into believing the first word is synonymous to the second one by simply lumping them together, like “rape consent” or “Nickleback good.” And that’s because that’s exactly what it is. But it’s also very serious, because it is being used in an official bill that has been drafted by Ohioan legislators. *Le sigh*
Ohio House Bill 413 is 723 pages long (dramatic much?), sponsored by Ohio State Rep. Candice Keller, and would add several new felonies to the state’s criminal code: “abortion murder” and “aggravated abortion murder.” The law would allow the state to punish doctors who perform abortions — and people who get them — to 15 years to life in prison. Not abortions before six weeks — not abortions in the case of rape or incest — but any abortion whatsoever.
Unlike previous extreme abortion bans, the Ohio bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest, with very narrow exemptions when it’s “highly probable that the pregnant woman will die from a certain fatal condition” should she carry on with the pregnancy.
It also includes provisions that suggest doctors should attempt to re-implant an ectopic pregnancy in a patient’s uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is when an egg is fertilized somewhere outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes, and has to be terminated in order to prevent complications or even death of the pregnant person. Re-implanting an ectopic pregnancy into a person’s uterus is a procedure that literally does not exist, but go off, Ohio.
But wait, there’s more! The bill also refers to a crime called “aggravated abortion murder,” which is when someone performs an abortion while committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated robbery, robbery, aggravated burglary, burglary,or other crimes. K, what criminal mastermind is out here performing abortions while robbing a bank? Asking for a friend.
The bill has yet to be passed or even voted on, but much like my ex at my family’s holiday party, the mere introduction of it is troubling.
House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes called the bill “the most brazen and absurd attempt yet to deny Ohio women their fundamental freedoms, to interfere with the patient-doctor relationship and disproportionately target communities of color across Ohio.”
Even if it is not passed, the bill seems to be the beginning of a movement that wants to give fetuses the same legal rights as pregnant people, and in many cases even put fetuses’ lives above pregnant people’s. Even just creating a bill that proposed re-implanting ectopic pregnancies is dangerous, because now people will likely hear this language and continue to push for the practice of it, even though it’s not medically possible. Like, even pro-life medical professionals have said that it isn’t possible.
Ingrid Skop, chair of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), told Vox: “To my knowledge we are nowhere near having the technology to do that.”
So WTF is this idea doing in a bill, then? Most likely trying to get people behind the idea, so they will push for it becoming a reality. But doing so could put pregnant people’s lives at risk, as the need to terminate their fetuses won’t be at the forefront, and hesitating to do so can be fatal. In short, pregnant people — cis women, trans men, and non-binary people — might find that their lives are not protected by the law, but their unborn fetuses’ are.
Feeling absolutely terrified? Great, let’s keep going!
Ohio has been a pioneer in strict, arguably inhumane, abortion laws in the past. They were the first to introduce a “heartbeat bill” which bans pregnancy after six weeks, back in 2011. It didn’t pass then, but did earlier this year, not just in Ohio, but in other states like Iowa, Georgia, and Alabama.
Important reminder: abortion is currently legal in all 50 states.
These bills have since been blocked by courts, but we can see the pattern of progression here. When the heartbeat bill was first introduced in Ohio in 2011, it was regarded as too extreme by most. Now, it’s clearly gaining popularity and traction, as various states attempt to pass it into law. The same could happen with this “abortion murder” bill. It’s like when you plant the idea of a present you want your partner to buy you by bringing it up over and over again, except in this case it’s bringing up “abortion murder” and the result is the jailing and death of women (and trans men and non-binary people).
This all seems to be part of a big push to chip away at abortion laws until they are illegal entirely, short of a Supreme Court decision removing the right to end a pregnancy. This term, SCOTUS will hear a Louisiana abortion case that could change how states are allowed to regulate the procedure.
Bills like Ohio’s are scary, but it’s important to remember that we have the power to elect lawmakers who are pro-choice. (Our friends at EMILY’s list, in particular, focus on grading and supporting women candidates who are prochoice.)
Aggressive reminder to do your homework and find out who you can vote for who will fight to keep abortion safe and legal. Bodily autonomy should be a human right given to all, because deciding what you want to do with your body should be your choice and your choice only. And yet we keep finding ways to criminalize people — mainly women and minorities — for attempting to obtain the legal right to do with their body as they choose, so here we are. Keep fighting the good fight, my queens.
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Images: Giphy (3)
Last week, Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States. With no exceptions for rape or incest, it’s designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the courts and rip the constitutional right to an abortion from every American woman. And because news in Trump’s America is a nightmare that will only end by voting in 2020, Alabama is just the latest (and most dramatic) example of a red state attempting to roll back abortion rights. Because there’s nothing like going back to a time when desperate women died from back-alley abortions to make America truly great again.
While Alabama’s abortion ban is pretty easy to understand (no abortions for anyone unless you’re likely to die without one), other states have found trickier ways to force women to give birth when they don’t want to. These incremental rollbacks are much more likely to make it to the Supreme Court than Alabama’s categorical ban, and are designed to chip away at abortion access one insurmountable hurdle after the other. Here are 5 examples of how states are restricting access to women’s constitutional right to access abortion:
1. The Full Ban
As of right now, Alabama is the only state rocking the full ban, which does not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest, but only when the mother’s life is in danger. That means if an 11-year-old girl were impregnated by her own father (it’s happened before), she would have to carry that baby to term. But tell me again how Handmaid’s Tale is just a show.
2. Time-Based Bans
These bans dramatically compress the time during which women can end a pregnancy — the type we’ve seen passed recently both in Georgia and Ohio (6 weeks) and Missouri (8 weeks). Often referred to as “fetal heartbeat bills” these bills seek to ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks. The tricky part about these bans is that most women don’t even realize that they’ve missed a period by six weeks and therefore could be pregnant. Women with irregular periods or cycles are at an even higher risk of realizing they’re pregnant too late to get an abortion. Also at risk are women who are on the types of birth control that might eliminate a regular period altogether. These women may not realize in time that their birth control has failed. Considering my period seems to come based solely on when it would be the most inconvenient, the idea of having a two-week window to realize something’s wrong is f*cking terrifying.
Current legal precedent, as determined by 1992’s Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, basically protects women’s right to access abortion up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy, the time of fetal “viability” or when the fetus could survive outside the womb. States are allowed to apply regulations before that period, as long as they don’t create an “undue burden” for women trying to access the procedure. The problem is, almost all of them do. Some federal courts are currently considering whether bans at 6 weeks create this “undue burden.” Um, duh?
3. Bans Targeting Clinics
These laws aim to make accessing abortion as onerous and expensive as possible in lieu of straight up banning the procedure. They’re a group of laws commonly referred to as TRAP laws, or targeted regulation of abortion providers, and 24 states currently have laws or policies that regulate abortion providers beyond what is medically necessary to ensure patient safety. Some examples include requiring doctors who perform abortions to have to admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, which creates a host of problems and inconveniences. (In some states the majority of hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic Church and will not admit doctors who perform abortions.) Some states have required that abortion clinics meet “ambulatory surgical center regulations,” which often would require cost-prohibitive renovations for a clinic to be compliant. Medical practitioners and public health groups have deemed these restrictions medically unnecessary.
The Supreme Court has already blocked a number of these restrictions, concluding that they create an “undue burden” for women trying to access abortion services. In February, SCOTUS blocked Louisiana’s admitting privileges law that would have left just one clinic in the state from going into effect. But the block is temporary, and the Supreme Court is currently considering whether to add the case to its 2019 docket and decide whether it’s constitutional. Meanwhile, abortion providers in Kentucky are currently challenging a law related to ambulatory requirements.
4. Laws Targeting Women
There are lots of laws that seek to dissuade, inconvenience, or shame women into not getting an abortion. Currently, 11 states have laws mandating transvaginal ultrasounds (aka putting a giant rod up your cooter) so that women can “see the fetus” before going through with an abortion. Long waiting periods are also common, which can have a profound impact on low-income women because it requires patients to 1) travel to far away clinics since these laws are found most heavily in states with very few clinics 2) take off work for the duration and waiting period and 3) put themselves up in a nearby hotel for that time. Some laws also make it legal to straight-up lie to women about their abortions by forcing doctors to read a “prepared script” full of misinformation, including that an abortion can cause breast cancer (it cannot).
In South Dakota, women seeking abortions are required by law to get anti-abortion counseling at crisis pregnancy centers, which are essentially fake abortion clinics that have been found to give people misleading or false information about their pregnancy to trick them into not having an abortion. In some cases, crisis pregnancy centers have promised women financial support for their baby, then ghosted the woman once she got past the legal limit to have her abortion. How Christian of them.
5. Laws Targeting Types of Abortions
As you may know, there are two main types of abortion: dilation and curettage, which may include vacuum aspiration (surgical abortion) or medical abortion, which uses two pills. Oklahoma lawmakers have tried to ban and restrict use of the abortion bill, and its Supreme Court blocked both attempts. States often use the FDA to justify these restrictions, which mandates very specific protocol and bans prescribing the pills via telemedicine, which would enhance access for millions of women in rural America.
Wow. I’m shook from even writing about all of that. If this has you terrified and wanting to help, check out our article How to Help Women in States with Extreme Abortion Bans for state and regionally-specific info, or check in with your local Planned Parenthood.
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