It’s been 38 years since Roe v. Wade, and the fundamentalists resent every minute. Just watch Jesus Camp. They’re teaching the date to their children and praying that pro-life judges will be “elevated.” If they get their way, abortion will soon be made illegal or impossible in the US.
They’re making progress, doing what the right does so well: nibbling away at the issue at the grass roots, state by state. The Nation details the legal strategies involved, and The New York Times reports the right’s stealthy success in passing a flurry of recent laws so restrictive that in some areas abortion might as well be “a right on paper only”:
[The map shows states that] have enacted five of the most harmful restrictions: mandatory waiting periods; demeaning “counseling” sessions lacking a real medical justification; parental consent or notification laws that pose a particular hardship for teenagers from troubled homes, including incest victims; needlessly onerous clinic “safety” rules governing such things as the width of hallways and the amount of storage space for janitorial supplies; and prohibitions on abortion coverage in insurance policies. States in lighter shades have fewer of these restrictions. Twenty-seven states have enacted three or more of these laws, while only 12 states, shown in white, have none….Sixty-one [major state abortion restrictions] were enacted during just the first eight months of this year — nearly triple the number in all of 2010, and more than double the previous record of 28 set in 1997. …[The graphic] fails to capture other negative developments, like the big decline in the number of abortion providers. In 1982, there were 2,908 providers nationwide. As of 2008, there were only 1,793. In 97 percent of the counties that are outside metropolitan areas there are no abortion providers at all.
Just as they wish homosexuality would just go away, the right presumably hopes abortions will end if they’re outlawed. That isn’t true, of course. Throughout history, many women who do not want to be pregnant have tried to do something about it–overdosing on chloroquine, inserting a coat hanger, or jumping from a height being just a few of the many methods of choice. (And why, moreover, is the right not crying out to reduce the natural miscarriage rate?) Just as pretending homosexuality isn’t legitimate can lead to gay youth suicide, so the lack of access to abortion services will simply lead more women to seek unsafe illegal abortions. Which, as we all know, often kills them.