Speaking of Chipping Away at Roe...

Something I (and many other advocates for abortion rights) have been saying for years is that the anti-choice movement has effectively conceded that trying to overturn Roe is a losing battle, so they've switched strategies to simply undermine the right it grants in every conceivable way.

In April of this year, the Reverend Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, flatly stated as much: "We don't have to see a Roe v. Wade overturned in the Supreme Court to end it. … We want to. But if we chip away and chip away, we'll find out that Roe really has no impact. And that's what we are doing."

For a very long time, that chipping strategy focused on "demand-side" abortion restrictions, i.e. those that create barriers to women and trans men seeking abortions, and we saw a bunch of states pass laws creating waiting periods, parental consent laws, etc.

But, as a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine has found, "demand-side" abortion restrictions "have not produced the drop in abortion rates that abortion-rights opponents desire," so anti-choicers have turned their attention to "supply side" abortion restrictions, which target physicians, hospitals, and clinics, with legislation that, for example, seeks to redefine abortion clinics as medical-surgical facilities.
Arizona, Kansas, Utah and Virginia are among the states that have turned to supply-side measures, such as strict structural requirements for abortion clinics that could force providers out of business. Nationwide, only 14% of ob-gyns offer abortion care, according to [NPR's "Shots"/Kaiser Health News].

[Theodore Joyce of the City University of New York and the National Bureau of Economic Research] writes that the supply-side strategy has been particularly effective in Texas, where a law called the Woman's Right to Know Act took effect in January 2004. The law includes demand-side restrictions that require women seeking abortion services before 16 weeks of pregnancy to receive certain information at least 24 hours before the procedure. After 16 weeks, the law includes supply-side restrictions requiring that abortions be performed in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers that meet certain staffing, reporting and structural requirements.

As a result, the number of abortions performed at or after 16 weeks decreased from 3,642 statewide in 2003 to 446 in 2004, while the average distance to a non-hospital abortion provider increased from 33 miles to 252 miles during the same time frame, according to Joyce (Gold, "Shots"/Kaiser Health News, 10/19).
Meanwhile, as this radical legislative assault on the bodily autonomy of more than half the population of US citizens insidiously snakes its way through statehouses across the nation, our ostensibly "pro-choice" president continues to remain totally silent on the issue, failing even to give a passing mention to reproductive rights in his "Women's Equality Day" proclamation. He has a bully pulpit which he knows how to use on behalf of marginalized constituencies when he deems it important enough, and I wonder still when he might find this pernicious subversion of a basic medical right important enough to say something, or even send out a surrogate to say something, anything, in our defense. You can't claim to be an ally if you're silent.

And lest anyone mistake that my ire is directed exclusively at President Obama, I'll also note once again the cavernous void of outrage across the progressive blogosphere at this affront to women. One would think the male-authored blogs at which protecting Roe is such a huge issue during elections would be prominently featuring coverage of this assault on women's basic bodily autonomy.

It's almost like certain gentlemen on the Left side of the aisle only care about Roe as a bargaining chip, and not as a fundamental right of women. Huh.

[H/T to Steph Herold.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus