Analysis Violence

Inside the Pilot Project That Grants Tribal Authority Over Domestic Violence Cases

Annamarya Scaccia

As of February 20, three federally recognized tribes have the power to arrest and prosecute non-Natives who assault Native intimate partners, under a pilot project to test a historic expansion of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction.

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 11:51 am, Thursday, April 24th, 2014 to correct errors in the presentation of statistics in the article regarding the prevalence of domestic violence among Native American women.

Nestled at the base of the Blue Mountain foothills, near the Oregon-Washington border, is the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation of Oregon. Just three hours east of Portland, the Northwestern tribal nation sweeps across a picturesque 172,000 acres, with winding roads curving along the Umatilla River that cuts through it.

A member of the Umatilla Indian Reservation since 2002, Desireé Coyote describes her community as a warm and welcoming place where everyone says hello and attends local celebrations. Tribal leaders and members, she told Rewire, “have the heart of the community in their mind and heart all the time,” and—like her—want to move the Umatilla Indian Reservation forward “to a more positive community.”

Yet, in her role as Umatilla Tribes’ Family Violence Services program manager, Coyote is often confronted with the aftershock of a decades-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that severely restricted tribal sovereignty and, as a result, puts the safety—and lives—of Native American women at risk. That opinion, issued in the 1978 Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe case, bars federally recognized tribes from exercising criminal jurisdiction over non-Native defendants, including those who commit acts of domestic violence against tribal members on the reservation.

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With the contentious reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last year, that 35-year-old decision was partially overturned in an effort to address the disproportionately high rates of domestic and sexual violence against Native American women. Under Section 904 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, most of the United States’ 566 federally recognized tribes will now have the power to arrest and prosecute non-Natives who assault Native intimate partners, or violate protection orders, in Indian country come March 2015.

The Umatilla Tribes of Oregon, however, began to exercise this special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction as of February 20. That month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that, as part of a pilot project, Umatilla—along with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington—would be the first tribes in the country to test this historic expansion before it takes effect nationwide.

“These tribal [and] non-tribal families living on the reservation all deserve the right [to] equal access to services and equal protection in regards to intimate partner violence,” Coyote told Rewire. “It is key not only for today’s generation, but for future generations.”

Protecting Umatilla’s Women

A union of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes, the Umatilla Indian Reservation is a small Shahaptian-speaking nation made up of nearly 3,000 tribal members, 1,500 of whom reside on or near the reservation itself. Another 300 Native Americans from other tribes, such as the Yakama and the Nez Percé, and about 1,500 non-Natives also call the Umatilla Indian Reservation home.

Native American women are subject to high rates of violence of all kinds. A 2004 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) statistical profile reveals that Native American women are victims of violent crime at three and half times the national average. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 46 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women have been victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Statistics kept by the Umatilla Indian Reservation reveal similar patterns: Nearly 40 percent of violent crimes against tribal members between 1992 and 2002 were domestic violence-related, and in 75 percent of those cases, non-Natives were identified as the offender.

Yet, up until February, Umatilla’s survivors had no recourse to seek justice through the tribal courts. The 1978 decision that stripped tribal authority in turn gave non-Natives what many consider an unspoken prerogative to commit crimes of sexual and domestic violence on reservations; it is widely known that federal or state agencies tend not to prosecute such cases. 

“Everybody knew—everybody knew—that if you’re a non-Native, you really could get away with a lot of these crimes out here,” Coyote said. “That really, really [impaired] tribal nations’ experience in being able to move forward on keeping their community safe.”

For the community-based advocate, one of the most difficult parts of working with Native American survivors abused by non-Native partners on the reservation was explaining the federal government’s role, as derived from the Supreme Court opinion, in prosecuting these domestic violence cases.

Before VAWA 2013, the federal government had exclusive jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes involving non-Natives, but the threshold for which cases the U.S. Attorney’s Office would take up “was still pretty high,” said Coyote, “usually severely maimed or dead.” And while that perimeter has “gotten better” under the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel, the federal prosecutor assigned to tribal nations in the District of Oregon, the federal government often failed to pursue misdemeanor domestic violence cases—both for a lack of resources and a lack of want.

Just an example: The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that, between 2005 and 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute 68 percent of sexual abuse cases and 55 percent of cases categorized as “other offenses involving threats, force, or violence,” which includes domestic violence or stalking. The primary reason cited for declination is “weak or insufficient admissible evidence.”

“[Survivors] questions to us—‘Well, why can’t they do anything about this non-Native offender in court? Why can’t we take care of our own people?’—[were] always hard ones for us as community-based advocates to address,” Coyote said.

The high domestic violence rates, compounded by this frustration amongst survivors, were just part of the reason the Umatilla Indian Reservation decided to participate in the pilot project. While there is a limited category of domestic violence crimes that are prosecutable by tribes, Coyote sees this narrow parameter as “a way of testing the ground.”

The other reason for applying to the project, Coyote said, was Umatilla’s existing compliance with judicial codes required under the new law. In order to exercise the special jurisdiction, tribal nations must adhere to the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, as well as develop a diverse juror pool of Native and non-Native community members, among other prerequisites. 

Building Up Trust

The Umatilla Tribes have yet to prosecute a case under the new law. In fact, according to John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), there has yet to be a case prosecuted by any of the three tribes participating in the pilot program, although there have been a number of arrests under the law. Much of this has to do with the slow pace of the legal system, he said, “but over time, there will be reported cases … before too long.”

“The big news is that these women are being protected,” Dossett told Rewire. Under the new law, tribes will be able to intervene much earlier and hopefully break the cycle of domestic violence … because it affects families, it affects children, and it’s a very important aspect of public safety.”

Since joining the Umatilla Tribes 12 years ago, Coyote has been heavily involved with state and national coalitions in addressing violence against tribal women. When the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women held its tribal consultations in 2006—the same year grant funding was made available to tribal nations under VAWA since it passed in 1994—Coyote was there.

Moreover, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder held a listening session about five years ago to address the victimization of Native women and “complex jurisdictional issues,” she attended.

Her efforts, and the efforts of other tribal advocates, helped pass a piece of historic legislation in which the federal government is “finally … actually seeing the atrocities going on [on] the reservations for all these years that have not been addressed, that have been swept under the table,” Coyote said.

“It’s like, for the first time, the lens is on the safety of Indian tribal women, and that hasn’t been seen in I don’t know how long,” she said.

Dossett echoed this sentiment, calling the passage of VAWA 2013 “a huge step forward for tribal authority and jurisdiction and for the safety of Native women.”

While there is hope survivors will start to come forward and seek help now that the pilot project is underway, Coyote believes survivors and their families will be tentative to trust the Umatilla Tribes’ ability to hold non-Native offenders accountable both in court and through its batterer’s intervention program, “until one case has gone through.”

“But I do think that once it becomes knowledge—truth—to our community, we will see a lot more victims willing to bring this forward,” she told Rewire.

Establishing trust, though, has less to do with the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s legal system than it does with the impact of the 1978 Oliphant opinion—and the United States’ long, sordid history of settler colonialism.

Through pugnacity, settlers of the “New World” pilfered much of the original Indian Country and its resources, pushing Native American tribes further away from the established lands. Iniquitous treaties and laws, and centuries of bloodshed, continued colonizers-cum-lawmakers’ exploitative clampdown on Native American tribes, with the Dawes Act of 1887—the United States’ official assimilation policy for nearly 50 years—the most shattering. Experts believe programs like the coercive Voluntary Relocation Program and the near erasure of Native American history in schools only serve to further Native American assimilation as a modern sociopolitical objective.

The corollaries of the United States’ settler colonialism and “generational trauma” still linger for tribal members, especially tribal women, says Coyote. If nowhere else, this is underscored by vehement dissent against expanding protections for Native American tribes under the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. A number of Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have said Section 904 is unconstitutional, and questioned tribal nations’ ability to carry out the law.

Of the 138 House members who voted against VAWA 2013’s Senate-approved bipartisan version, all were Republican.

If you ask Coyote, “outright racism” and long-purported stereotypes towards Native people played a “huge role” in this pushback. In order for tribal members to trust the law, and to establish meaningful collaboration, the United States particularly will need to “take an honest look at the atrocities that occurred and learn from it,” she said, and not continue to look negatively at tribes “from a window or a magnifying glass.”

For the program to succeed, the federal government and tribal nations will have “to actually get together, know each other, and learn to be able to trust each other,” she said.

The inimical way in which Native tribes and people are treated in and by American society, though, are largely dictated by that prejudice, Coyote added, so “we have to really hope that [the United States doesn’t] lean on those stereotypes and leave it at that.”

She continued, “They have to really get out and be a part of a team who’s trying to address the issue in a positive way.”

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”

Culture & Conversation Abortion

With Buffer Zones and Decline of ‘Rescues’ Came Anti-Choice Legal Boom, Book Argues

Eleanor J. Bader

University of Denver's Joshua Wilson argues that prosecutions of abortion-clinic protesters and the decline of "rescue" groups in the 1980s and 1990s boosted conservative anti-abortion legal activism nationwide.

There is nothing startling or even new in University of Denver Professor Joshua C. Wilson’s The New States of Abortion Politics (Stanford University Press). But the concise volume—just 99 pages of text—pulls together several recent trends among abortion opponents and offers a clear assessment of where that movement is going.

As Wilson sees it, anti-choice activists have moved from the streets, sidewalks, and driveways surrounding clinics to the courts. This, he argues, represents not only a change of agitational location but also a strategic shift. Like many other scholars and advocates, Wilson interprets this as a move away from pushing for the complete reversal of Roe v. Wade and toward a more incremental, state-by-state winnowing of access to reproductive health care. Furthermore, he points out that it is no coincidence that this maneuver took root in the country’s most socially conservative regions—the South and Midwest—before expanding outward.

Wilson credits two factors with provoking this metamorphosis. The first was congressional passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act in 1994, legislation that imposed penalties on protesters who blocked patients and staff from entering or leaving reproductive health facilities. FACE led to the establishment of protest-free buffer zones at freestanding clinics, something anti-choicers saw as an infringement on their right to speak freely.

Not surprisingly, reproductive rights activists—especially those who became active in the 1980s and early 1990s as a response to blockades, butyric acid attacks, and various forms of property damage at abortion clinics—saw the zones as imperative. In their experiences, buffer zones were the only way to ensure that patients and staff could enter or leave a facility without being harassed or menaced.

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The second factor, Wilson writes, involved the reduced ranks of the so-called “rescue” movement, a fundamentalist effort led by the Lambs of Christ, Operation Rescue, Operation Save America, and Priests for Life. While these groups are former shadows of themselves, the end of the rescue era did not end anti-choice activism. Clinics continue to be picketed, and clinicians are still menaced. In fact, local protesters and groups such as 40 Days for Life and the Center for Medical Progress (which has exclusively targeted Planned Parenthood) negatively affect access to care. Unfortunately, Wilson does not tackle these updated forms of harassment and intimidation—or mention that some of the same players are involved, albeit in different roles.

Instead, he argues the two threads—FACE and the demise of most large-scale clinic protests—are thoroughly intertwined. Wilson accurately reports that the rescue movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s resulted in hundreds of arrests as well as fines and jail sentences for clinic blockaders. This, he writes, opened the door to right-wing Christian attorneys eager to make a name for themselves by representing arrested and incarcerated activists.

But the lawyers’ efforts did not stop there. Instead, they set their sights on FACE and challenged the statute on First Amendment grounds. As Wilson reports, for almost two decades, a loosely connected group of litigators and activists worked diligently to challenge the buffer zones’ legitimacy. Their efforts finally paid off in 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court found that “protection against unwelcome speech cannot justify restrictions on the use of public streets and sidewalks.” In short, the decision in McCullen v. Coakley found that clinics could no longer ask the courts for blanket prohibitions on picketing outside their doors—even when they anticipated prayer vigils, demonstrations, or other disruptions. They had to wait until something happened.

This, of course, was bad news for people in need of abortions and other reproductive health services, and good news for the anti-choice activists and the lawyers who represented them. Indeed, the McCullen case was an enormous win for the conservative Christian legal community, which by the early 2000s had developed into a network united by opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights.

The New States of Abortion Politics zeroes in on one of these legal groups: the well-heeled and virulently anti-choice Alliance Defending Freedom, previously known as the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s a chilling portrait.

According to Wilson, ADF’s budget was $40 million in 2012, a quarter of which came from the National Christian Foundation, an Alpharetta, Georgia, entity that claims to have distributed $6 billion in grants to right-wing Christian organizing efforts since 1982.

By any measure, ADF has been effective in promoting its multipronged agenda: “religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family.” In practical terms, this means opposing LGBTQ inclusion, abortion, marriage equality, and the right to determine one’s gender identity for oneself.

The group’s tentacles run deep. In addition to a staff of 51 full-time lawyers and hundreds of volunteers, a network of approximately 3,000 “allied attorneys” work in all 50 states to boost ADF’s agenda. Allies are required to sign a statement affirming their commitment to the Trinitarian Statement of Faith, a hallmark of fundamentalist Christianity that rests on a literal interpretation of biblical scripture. They also have to commit to providing 450 hours of pro bono legal work over three years to promote ADF’s interests—no matter their day job or other obligations. Unlike the American Bar Association, which encourages lawyers to provide free legal representation to poor clients, ADF’s allied attorneys steer clear of the indigent and instead focus exclusively on sexuality, reproduction, and social conservatism.

What’s more, by collaborating with other like-minded outfits—among them, Liberty Counsel and the American Center for Law and Justice—ADF provides conservative Christian lawyers with an opportunity to team up on both local and national cases. Periodic trainings—online as well as in-person ones—offer additional chances for skill development and schmoozing. Lastly, thanks to Americans United for Life, model legislation and sample legal briefs give ADF’s other allies an easy way to plug in and introduce ready-made bills to slowly but surely chip away at abortion, contraceptive access, and LGBTQ equality.

The upshot has been dramatic. Despite the recent Supreme Court win in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the number of anti-choice measures passed by statehouses across the country has ramped up since 2011. Restrictions—ranging from parental consent provisions to mandatory ultrasound bills and expanded waiting periods for people seeking abortions—have been imposed. Needless to say, the situation is unlikely to improve appreciably for the foreseeable future. What’s more, the same people who oppose abortion have unleashed a backlash to marriage equality as well as anti-discrimination protections for the trans community, and their howls of disapproval have hit a fever pitch.

The end result, Wilson notes, is that the United States now has “an inconstant localized patchwork of rules” governing abortion; some counties persist in denying marriage licenses to LGBTQ couples, making homophobic public servants martyrs in some quarters. As for reproductive health care, it all depends on where one lives: By virtue of location, some people have relatively easy access to medical providers while others have to travel hundreds of miles and take multiple days off from work to end an unwanted pregnancy. Needless to say, this is highly pleasing to ADF’s attorneys and has served to bolster their fundraising efforts. After all, nothing brings in money faster than demonstrable success.

The New States of Abortion Politics is a sobering reminder of the gains won by the anti-choice movement. And while Wilson does not tip his hand to indicate his reaction to this or other conservative victories—he is merely the reporter—it is hard to read the volume as anything short of a call for renewed activism in support of reproductive rights, both in the courts and in the streets.