Katha Pollitt has a fascinating article up this week called “Antichoicers on the March.” She talks about the relentless pursuit, on the part of anti-choice lawmakers, given the outcome of the midterm elections, to chip away at abortion access in this country. Pollitt notes it’s not so much about outlawing abortion, via overturning Roe v. Wade, as it is about smaller, state-focused anti-choice action:
Add up enough small victories and eventually you’ve changed the reproductive rights landscape, both as a matter of law and on the ground, without ever engaging in the kind of wholesale ban or fertilized-egg-as-a-person legislation that energizes the opposition and that voters, like those in Colorado this year, have consistently rejected.
But it’s also about building a steel wall between taxpayers and abortion funding. It’s a newer rallying cry, with an age-old foundation, given that federal funding for abortion care in this country is banned, as per the almost forty-year old Hyde Amendment.
On second glance, though, it makes perfect sense.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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During the campaign season, the health care reform law provided a perfect foil for anti-choice candidates who needed to find something about abortion to grab onto, as the larger public discussion focused on the state of the economy. There was only one ballot measure related to reproductive justice in the entire country. And though the Tea Party clearly has an interest in social issues, the electorate was much more focused on jobs and the economy this election season, than abortion and gay marriage. It’s why, from the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List to Sarah Palin cronies, Joe Miller and Rand Paul, the fallacy that the new health care law allows taxes to go towards abortion care was pushed. Anti-choice politicians and organizations dug deep into the intricacies of the health care law and pulled out connections between state-created health exchanges (with federal funding), private insurance coverage and women who may use a combination of both to build some mighty shaky bridges between abortion care and taxpayer money.
With that in mind, Pollitt gives a great run-down of where she thinks anti-choice lawmakers and supporting groups will focus this session from reinstating the Global Gag Rule (which prevents organizations which receive U.S. aid from providing, referring for or even mentioning abortion in any capacity) to preserving the ban on abortions for military women to attempting to passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act which would enshrine the Hyde Amendment into permant law as well as place a whole host of new restrictions on anything remotely related to the federal government, individual taxpayers and abortion.
However, Pollitt does provide some relief. She interviews Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America who reminds us that it was likely pro-choice women who made the difference in the victories of Patty Murray (Democratic U.S. Senator, Washington State) and Michael Bennett (who beat out Republican anti-choicer Ken Buck in Colorado for Senate).
It’s good to know that pro-choice women hold the key, as long as we use it.