By Jennifer Dalven, Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
I am so excited I am beside myself. I’m a long-time reproductive health advocate looking at politicians around the country lining up to make it harder for a woman to get birth control, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to set up demeaning and obstructive roadblocks for women seeking abortions. And yet I am positively giddy. Why?
I am giddy because I can see that change is a coming. Those who would turn back the clock to the days of the aspirin-between-the-knees method of birth control have gone too far. And women across the country have had enough.
First, there was Mississippi where nearly 60 percent of voters in the most conservative of states rejected a ban on abortion.
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Then there was the public outcry over the Komen Foundation’s short-lived decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
Then, this week, after facing large demonstrations and national ridicule, an anti-choice governor with national aspirations was forced to change the infamous ultrasound bill he originally touted. And then, because they were too politically costly, the Republican-controlled legislature quickly killed all of the other 12 abortion restrictions that were previously on the fast track to the governor’s desk.
And just yesterday Pennsylvania legislators shelved a proposed ultrasound bill in the wake of the Virginia controversy.
Recently, women gathered outside the capitol in Oklahoma (yes, Oklahoma) to protest a bill that would outlaw abortion. And, if that sight wasn’t uplifting enough, a state senator stood proudly with the protestors holding a sign that said — I kid you not — “If I wanted government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator.”
Now in some ways none of this should come as a surprise. We’ve known for decades that Americans don’t want politicians interfering in their personal and private decisions. And yet year after year more restrictions pass. But what we have seen over the last few months is that we’ve finally reached a tipping point. Those who would take us back to the dark ages have over played their hand: The American public is making clear that they won’t stand for outrageous proposals like those forcing a woman to have an ultrasound before an abortion, restricting access to birth control, or seeking to outlaw abortion. Women from all across the country, including the Deep South and the Bible Belt, are making their voices heard. Loudly and clearly they are warning politicians: Mess with women at your peril. Change is a-coming.