Written by: Selena DiGiovanni
Forty years ago this past January, the controversial Roe v. Wade case gave millions of women in the U.S. the right to a safe and legal abortion. Not surprisingly, politicians across America have been fighting tooth and nail to prevent women from gaining access to reproductive health.
Our first stop is in Michigan where, this past December, politicians locked out the general public during lawmaking sessions. The following statement was made by Kary L. Moss, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s executive director: “While the Senate passed one bad bill after another, they locked out the public, including our legislative director….Doing so on such important issues while the public is shut out of the debate is cause for, once again, the Michigan legislature to be a national embarrassment.” The Senate passed bill after bill restricting women’s rights while the public was unconstitutionally refused their right to speak to their representatives.
Moving to the South, we stop in New Mexico. There, Rep. Cathrynn Brown recently introduced a bill which would make the termination of a pregnancy for a rape or incest survivor a third degree felony for “tampering with evidence.” This means that women who obtain an abortion due to rape or incest could serve up to three years in prison. Brown later clarified that the bill would punish those that committed the rape and then destroys evidence of the crime via abortion but the bill could still negatively impact victims of rape or incest. Women who are victims of rape or incest could potentially be forced to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.
In addition, there are several states which are currently working to take away women’s reproductive health rights. In North Dakota there is a bill which is making history by attempting to pass a package of laws which would define ‘personhood.’ This ‘personhood legislation’ would prevent abortions statewide (including pregnancies caused by rape or incest) by defining the fetus as a person and granting it the rights of a citizen. Certain forms of birth control, stem cell research and in vitro fertilization would also be banned under this new legislation.
And finally, right now women in Tennessee are fighting a new law which would require them to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion. This means that a woman who wants an abortion, whether it be for personal or health reasons, would first be made to listen to the heartbeat of their unborn fetus. This procedure is unnecessarily cruel, incredibly invasive and often detrimental to the mental health of the mother.
These are just a handful of laws and bills which women have had to fight and are still fighting to maintain their basic rights. Every day there is another politician unconstitutionally working to undo the benefits of Roe vs. Wade.
How can you help prevent laws which will limit your reproductive health from being passed? Go to www.thisispersonal.org to learn more about your rights and how to stop politicians from placing restrictions on your reproductive health.