In 2016, 18 US states enacted 50 new abortion restrictions, bringing the number of new abortion restrictions enacted since 2010 to 338. On the other hand, between 2001 and 2016, US states have enacted 214 legislative measures aimed at expanding access to abortion, contraception, and related services and education. The most notable event of 2016 related to access to freestanding abortion clinic services was the US Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in June. The Court’s ruling underscored the need to consider scientific evidence, and not just lawmakers’ beliefs, in evaluating the constitutionality of abortion restrictions. Not that that will stop the anti-abortion movement from trying it on.Every US reproductive justice organisation is talking crisis, doom and gloom and raising money hand over fist from supporters to fight to maintain and extend women’s reproductive rights, and with justification.But Trump’s first day in office will begin with women’s marches in 370 cities, including many cities in every US state, 22 Canadian cities, 26 European countries including 11 UK cities, 9 Latin American/Caribbean countries, including 10 Mexican cities, 8 Asia-Pacific countries, 5 African countries, and 4 Middle Eastern countries – overall in some 54 countries.On the first day of the Senate confirmation hearing of Trump’s nominee Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans largely dismissed what Rewire called his abysmal record on a broad range of rights – including, but not limited to, voting, reproductive, and LGBTQ rights. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, the Committee’s new ranking member, said that she and her Judiciary Committee colleagues had received letters opposing Sessions’ nomination from “400 different civil rights organizations, 1,400 law professors, 1,000 law students, a broad task force of organizations that oppose domestic violence, 70 reproductive health organizations and many, many others”.Anti-abortion threats, distortions of the truth and downright lies are already as bad as it gets in the US. But the unconstitutional legal restrictions being proposed are getting worse. For example, women who have abortions and those who provide them would face first-degree murder charges under a threatened bill by a newly elected Republican state senator in Idaho. First-degree murder in Idaho carries a sentence of life imprisonment or death. Draft language for the bill isn’t yet available, but its author said the legislation would include only one exception, in cases where the woman’s life is endangered. He told a local paper: “I don’t want to tell a woman what to do with her body, and neither should the government, but…”Illustration by Pete Ryan, inThe History of Abortion Is a History of Punishing Women, 2 April 2016
SOURCES: Campaign newsletter, 29 June 2016 ; Rewire, by Christine Grimaldi, 10 January 2017 ; Rewire, 12 January 2017; Guttmacher Institute: Reproductive Health in Crisis, series of 5 analyses in December 2016 and January 2017.