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4 Ways The GOP is Currently Fucking With Women’s Right to Choose

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In the month after Donald Trump was elected, 260,000 Americans donated to Planned Parenthood, 40 times what the organization normal gets in a month. Who gave was also different, with Millennials making up nearly half of donors. Most of those donations came from people who’d never before donated to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told the Washington Post that 72,000 people gave their money on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence, who has submitted legislation to defund Planned Parenthood multiple times, and failed every time.

The last attempt to defund Planned Parenthood resulted in a bill that made it to Obama’s desk. He vetoed it, but Trump has said that he will not do the same.

“We’re in the middle of a moment that is calling for us to take action in a way we have never taken action before, and we’re ready,” Kelly Robinson, Planned Parenthood’s deputy national organization director, recently said on Facebook Live.

The fight over defunding Planned Parenthood soaks up all the oxygen in the room surrounding women’s ability to access reproductive healthcare in the United States. But that’s not even close to the only threat to women’s bodily autonomy.

Every day legislators are successfully chipping away at a woman’s right to choose. Having mostly given up on passing blanket bans, Republicans across the country country are instead introducing legislation that makes it extremely difficult for women to exercise their Constitutional right to decide what happens inside our own bodies.

States have passed more than 1,074 laws to make it harder for women to access abortion services since Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973. More than a quarter of them passed between 2010 and 2015, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Between 2013 and 2016 states passed hundreds of anti-choice bills, more than in the previous decade combined. In total there are laws across 44 states that place restraints on abortion services.

“Sixty per cent of women who seek abortions in America have children already; seventy-five per cent live near or below the poverty line,” Moira Weigel recently wrote for the New Yorker. “For those who cannot afford to lose wages, or to pay for lodging and child care, in addition to the procedure itself, these obstacles often prove insurmountable.”

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We are at a moment when “state-level restrictions threaten to render that right legal in name only,” wrote Jessica Pieklo, Vice President of Law and the Courts at Rewire.

4 ways Republicans are fucking with women’s right to choose

1. Lying to women laws

Many states have laws on the books that require healthcare providers to give women seeking abortion information before the procedure, but often these “facts” have been soundly rejected by the scientific community and amount to forcing doctors to lie to women.

Arkansas and South Dakota, for instance, legally require doctors to tell women that it’s possible to reverse an abortion if you change your mind.

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And growing number of states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Utah, and Idaho, are considering similar legislation. This claim is in no way supported by the scientific literature, a fact the Indiana measure seems to acknowledge. Their bill also requires providers to inform women that “no scientifically validated medical study confirms that an abortion may be reversed after taking abortion-inducing drugs.”

2. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws

Half of states have what are known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws.

These mandate the who, how, and when of transferring patients who need emergency care to local hospitals. They also place unreasonable, unnecessary facilities requirements on clinics. The goal is to then order the clinics to stop operating, claiming non-compliance without proving they are not compliant.

Kentucky has exactly one operational abortion clinic, and it’s suing the state to stay open. Over the past year, Governor Matt Bevin, an anti-abortion Republican who has called himself an “unapologetically pro-life individual,” has successfully shut down abortions at Kentucky’s Louisville clinic. Now Bevin has revoked the license of EMW’s downtown Louisville clinic –and Kentucky’s sole abortion provider. The ACLU is fighting on behalf of EMW’s downtown Louisville clinic, saying they are operating in compliance with licensure laws.

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TRAP laws are why West Texas is essentially a women’s health desert, with patients having to make multiple, multi-hour drives and bus rides to obtain abortions. The Texas laws quadrupled the number of Texans who had their abortion out of state. By the end of 2013, nearly 40% of Texas’ 41 abortion clinics either closed or stopped providing abortions. One 13-year-old rape victim was recently turned away at 20 weeks pregnant. Indiana experienced a recent HIV outbreak after the only place where HIV testing was offered in the county, the Scott County Planned Parenthood, was shut down using TRAP laws.

Recently the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas abortion law that prompted Texas state senator Wendy Davis’ famous eleven-hour filibuster constituted an undue burden on abortion access, and therefore violated the Constitution. Not only did it regulate emergency admitting agreements, but it required clinics to have the same equipment and be built the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. The American Medical Association recently joined the amicus brief led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposing the law.

And many of those states are getting sued because the requirements are neither helpful nor necessary, and are actually aimed at shutting down clinics instead of protecting women’s safety. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court “Embraces, entirely, the reality that abortion is a fundamental right, a medical procedure that one in three women will need in their lifetime, and should not therefore be subject to the regulatory whims of anti-abortion lawmakers,” Pieklo wrote.

To learn more about TRAP laws, check out this documentary.

3. “Sex-selection abortion” bans

Arkansas legally requires doctors to ask women seeking abortion whether they know the gender of the fetus. Which seems unnecessary, since 92 percent of abortions happen within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy (most of these are completed within the first eight weeks) and it takes at least 18 weeks for a fetus to develop to the point where you can determine gender on an ultrasound. Rhode Island is considering similar legislation.

Not only must the doctor ask women who have no way of knowing their fetus’ sex whether they know their fetus’ sex, but doctors must also pore over the woman’s medical records looking for evidence that she’s ever terminated a pregnancy based on sex before. Then, the provider must inform the woman that it is illegal to chose whether to have an abortion based on the sex of the fetus. Providers who do not comply can lose their medical license as well as face up to a year in prison and a $25,500 fine.

4. Heartbeat laws and “partial-birth abortion” bans

Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, South Dakota, and South Carolina are trying to ban abortions performed later in the pregnancy. The medical community rejects Dilation and Evacuation Bans, or “dismemberment bans,” as these procedures pose very little risk to patient safety while forcing women to give birth against medical advice is extremely risky. Stenberg v. Carhart struck down Nebraska’s so-called “partial birth abortion ban” as unconstitutional. And state courts in Kansas and Oklahoma have blocked those measures.

In Rhode Island, H5399 defines the moment at which human life begins as the point at which there is “a fetal heartbeat or flutter.” Iowa is considering similar legislation.

What you can do to help

Planned Parenthood’s Kelly Robinson spoke for all of us when she said, “We won’t back down, we won’t be silenced, and we will not let these politicians attack our health and rights without a fight.”

Before winning Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, many Texas Whole Women’s Health clinics were forced to close. They are currently trying to rebuild their patient base and could use additional funding.

Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota all have just one Planned Parenthood and need additional funding.

Planned Parenthood California needs volunteers. If you’re a developer or engineer, consider participating in an upcoming Abortion Access Hackathon.

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Also get in touch with the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Network of Abortion Funds, and Lady Parts Justice, which names and shames anti-choice legislators. Also consider donating to protect access to family planning, sending a message to Secretary Price demanding that this administration protect full insurance coverage of birth control with no copay, and becoming a Planned Parenthood Defender.

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Cathy Reisenwitz is a SF-based writer with a focus on sex, politics, and technology. She is Editor-in-Chief of Sex and the State.