In which we get depressed over reproductive rights legislation

By Reed McConnell

Remember last spring when everyone was getting all riled up over the GOP’s War on Women? Yeah, it’s not actually over.

Two days ago, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would make abortions of pregnancies over 20 weeks illegal. There’s no way that it’ll become law, because the Senate is controlled by Democrats who will vote against the bill along with moderate Republicans, and Obama would veto it even if, by some miracle, it made its way out of the Senate. But the conservative Republicans who came up with the legislation in the first place knew this, and still went forward with the bill. They see its passage out of the House as a symbolic rather than a practical victory, as a clear challenge against Roe v. Wade and a sign of support for what they hope is a growing movement to repeal it.

So no, this particular legislation probably won’t be affecting anyone concretely, but it’s still scary. It shows that even though bills restricting abortion haven’t been passing with the same frequency that they were passing last spring, those in power definitely haven’t lost their interest in fighting to restrict our reproductive rights.

In fact, laws similar to this one have actually been quietly passing at the state level around the country. In March, North Dakota passed a ban on abortions that occur after six weeks of pregnancy, and during the same month, Arkansas passed a ban on abortions that occur after twelve weeks of pregnancy. Both laws flagrantly disregard the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade, which ensures women the right to all abortions before 28 weeks. And a month later, in April, Kansas passed an extremely conservative law that made it much harder to get accurate information about abortions, and also stated that all life begins at fertilization.

Furthermore, the debate around this law gave us a real good glimpse of what is (not) going on in the heads of some of our congresspeople. The current version of the legislation includes an exception for pregnancies that result from rape, but the caveat was only added after a gaffe made by a republican congressman. About a week ago, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) sagely asserted that, “the incidence[s] of pregnancy resulting from rape are very low,” apparently forgetting the approximately 3,000 women who are impregnated by rape every year. Once again, a wealthy white man who likes to make up weird untrue stuff about women gets to vote on how we are allowed to use our uteruses. Us women are so lucky to live in such a freedom-luvin’ country! I would like to thank Amurka, and also eagles.

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