How are the Vaginas Doing?

How we doing, ladies? Diva cups firmly in place? IUDs lodged nice and tight? Good, because shit is hitting the fan in a big way.

President Trump has nominated the conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He has a fun history of denying women’s reproductive rights and his appointment brings the upending of Roe v. Wade closer to being reality than a mere nightmare.

Gorsuch has ruled in favor of employers denying women contraception coverage by citing the religious liberty of companies like Hobby Lobby (a case on which he ruled in a lower court). He has ruled that hospitals don’t have to provide contraception or abortion to their workers and don’t even need to provide a workaround like the Hobby Lobby case required. He wanted to rehear a case in Utah to defund Planned Parenthood, likely to rule in favor of defunding.

On the personal side, we don’t know his opinion on abortion specifically but we do know he has a strong pro-life stance. In his book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” he wrote that “All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” This is the same “pro-life” rhetoric used by anti-abortion advocates.

Though he has not yet ruled on abortion specifically or explicitly given his personal views on the pro-life/pro-choice debate, he has given us enough judicial and anecdotal clues that we can fear he won’t rule in favor of Roe v. Wade.

This matters right now because since Jan. 1, disturbing anti-choice laws have been proposed and passed in several states. Several of these bills are blatant violations of the standards set by Roe v. Wade and so mostly exist to make a point, but with a more conservative bench, that could all change for the worse.

Doctors who perform abortions are murderers…

Says Senator Joseph Silk, who proposes a bill that would charge doctors who perform abortions with first-degree murder. SB 817 is so clearly unconstitutional that even Silk himself knows it but he’s fashioned himself a 21st century Abraham Lincoln:

“We’re talking about the same Supreme Court that once ruled that slavery was okay, and they were wrong then. They’re wrong again. And so it’s the lawmaker’s job to push the issue and make them overturn that.”

If only women were still their husband’s property…

Then Rep. Justin Humphrey, also of Oklahoma, could get his wife to stop leaving the house without a permission slip. Or abort an unwanted pregnancy, as per his proposed legislation. HB 1441 (which, incidentally, is also the year Humphrey was born), would require women to obtain the written consent of the fetus’s father before receiving an abortion. Exceptions were made for pregnancies resulting from rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.

Meanwhile in Nashville…

Rep. Micah Van Huss has proposed the infamous “heartbeat bill,” which would ban a pregnancy once a heartbeat is detected. That can happen five weeks into the pregnancy, far earlier than most women even know they’re pregnant. It effectively makes abortion completely illegal, a move that is itself a violation of the law.

“Extreme legislation like this would make almost all safe, legal abortions illegal,” says Sarah Wallett, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis.

Iterations of the heartbeat bill have been tossed around, including in Ohio that was struck down by Governor Kasich in December.

Leave it alone…

Is not what we should say about the outdated 720 Illinois Criminal Statute 510, also known as the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. After Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, Illinois said “nah bra” to that and created a ticking time bomb law that will make all abortions illegal across the state the second that SCOTUS overturns the landmark case ruling. Which could be some time in the near future.

Brigid Leahy, director of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, calls the blue state a “safe haven” for women in surrounding states who are seeking abortions. Democratic Representative Sarah Feigenholtz has introduced a bill to void the law if it goes into effect.

If it ain’t broke…

Definitely get rid of it, according to lawmakers in good ol’ Arkansas. The state has banned the most common and safest method of abortion, dilation and evacuation abortion. In addition, buried deep down in the bill is a clause allowing husbands and parents to sue the abortion provider for monetary damages if their wives and daughters seek abortions. If the pregnancy is the result of spousal rape, the husband cannot sue for money but he. Can. Still. Stop. The. Abortion.

Rita Sklar, an attorney for the Arkansas ACLU, told Reuters that “the law puts an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to obtain a second-trimester abortion, and I think the legislature knows and it doesn’t care.”

If you sit and wait…

Too bad, so long. Kentucky has joined the ranks of several states to ban abortion after 20 weeks. The new bill also requires an ultrasound before the procedure.

Like Arkansas, the 20-week ban “humanely” makes an exception for the mother’s life but not for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. As for the ultrasound requirement, the bill includes a provision stating that the pregnant woman may “avert” her eyes and ask to mute the volume.

Legislators felt the need to legally enshrine a gross violation of a woman’s body yet they were magnanimous enough to give her permission to close her eyes.

Last but certainly, definitely, absolutely not least…

The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, which would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, forbids federal funds to cover abortions. This does not only mean that women cannot use Medicaid to cover abortions, but also that women cannot purchase subsidized private health insurance that covers abortion. This would radically restrict women’s abilities to access abortion services. The bill has passed the House but not yet the Senate.

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