Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2013 was not a good year for supporters of abortion rights, but there are hopeful signs for 2014!

2013 was not a good year for supporters of abortion rights—especially in Pennsylvania. Randy LoBasso documents reduced availability of abortion in PA

A Southeast Pennsylvania abortion clinic closed in late 2013, bringing the grand total of commonwealth closings since 2012 to eight. And at least five of those are directly related to a law passed by the state Legislature in 2011 which put new construction restrictions on clinics and was referred to as a “back-door ban” on abortion services when it was passed.

And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill banning abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges authorized by the federal healthcare reform law.

Apparently despairing of making gains in securing abortion rights in Pennsylvania, feminist advocates in the state have signed onto a Women’s Health Agenda that does not include a strong defense of abortion rights, other than calling for a 15-foot buffer zone around health clinic entrances. Many good bills are proposed and they deserve strong support. I understand the rationale behind this strategy of working on a range of women’s issues separate from the more politically charged issue of abortion rights. But if the list of bills doesn't include bills repealing restrictions on abortion rights and calling for Medicaid funding for abortion, then we shouldn’t call it a Women’s Health Agenda.

However, despite the bad news in 2013, I sense renewed commitment to defending abortion rights. National NOW President Terry O’Neill also believes the forecast for 2014 looks brighter. From O’Neill’s press release:
The tide, however, is turning. Voters rejected the radical Tea Party agenda in the 2012 elections nationwide and again in 2013 in Virginia.
Also, women's health allies in Congress are pushing the Women's Health Protection Act. From Cecile Richards, President Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Your rights shouldn't depend on your zip code — so we're fighting back. Women's health allies in Congress are pushing the Women's Health Protection Act, and it will make a difference in communities where the Roe v. Wade decision is under direct attack.

Please take a minute to tell Congress to support the Women's Health Protection Act

The Women's Health Protection Act is designed to protect the rights promised by Roe v. Wade. It will stop the outrageous laws that are undermining women's health and rights in state after state. Laws that require doctors to perform state-mandated procedures on women seeking abortion. Laws that impose bans on abortion at 20 weeks in states like Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana — and at just 6 weeks in North Dakota. Laws meant to force abortion providers to shut down and deny women the right to make their own medical decisions.

And NARAL’s is mounting a campaign to demonstrate that pro-choice values are shared by the majority of Ameicans. From Ilyse G. Hogue
President, NARAL Pro-Choice America

We put together this graphic because the vast majority of Americans support the principles of Roe, and we need to show these politicians we won’t be silent. Like our graphic on Facebook so we can show them, loud and clear, that we are in the majority; pro-choice values are American values.

Recent national polls data have brought some encouraging news: Seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, according to new data from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, as the landmark Supreme Court abortion-rights ruling turns 41 on Tuesday. According to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

That is the highest level of support for the decision, which established a woman's right to an abortion, since polls began tracking it in 1989. The shift is mostly the result of more Democrats backing the decision—particularly Hispanics and African-Americans—and a slight uptick in support from Republicans.

The poll is not all good news for advocates of abortion rights. There is still majority support for some restrictions on abortion rights. However, the generational trend lines are favorable. We are moving in the right direction and this is not the time for an advocates of abortion rights to retreat from the position that abortion is an integral part of a Women’s Health Agenda.

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