While the fight rages on (solidarity, WI!), a lesser-known but just as coordinated, pervasive attack is raging against women’s rights. For years, the anti-choice movement has been sending up test balloons at the state level to determine the most effective ways to chip away at abortion rights. Now, they’re launching a multi-front attack.
To an untrained eye, it may seem like a hodgepodge of random laws, varying in their effectiveness, without coordinated strategy. But make no mistake, their strategy is as coordinated as the attack on the middle class. The laws introduced in each state are tailored to the
progress regress they think they can make there, and they add up to one giant step backward for women’s rights.
For those of you who think this is all hyperbole and reproductive freedom is safe – I’ll point to these four laws, all about to be signed by the Governors of their respective states:
So you can identify their tactics, I’ve summarized the anti-choice movement’s efforts into five main categories. Here's your guide to the anti-choice playbook:
1. Women are lazy. They obviously haven’t done any research or thought much about this decision. If you could just, somehow, make them pay attention, they would definitely change their mind. See: forced ultrasound viewing, forced audio of fetal heartbeat, 24-72 hour waiting periods.
2. Women are stupid. If you put someone in a white coat and mandate them to churn out ideological drivel under the guise of “counseling,” they will be scared/coerced/guilted into changing their mind. They couldn’t possibly understand the decisions they are making for their own body and their own future. This tactic includes language that has no business being passed off as medical fact, e.g. “You are terminating the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being,” and the insistence (even in the face of evidence that proves otherwise) that abortion increases the risk of depression, suicide and breast cancer. See: forced scripting of doctors and nurses, required counseling with anit-choice "crisis pregnancy centers," required viewing of anti-choice literature and videos.
3. Parents know best. This class of regulation argues that parents should always be notified – and in some cases, must give consent – if their underage daughter seeks abortion care. Of course, all of us think if our daughter were in that situation, we would want to know. But think about the girls without committed, caring parents. What about the girls who are abused, prostituted, or abandoned by their parents? Would you condemn them to live the life their parents want for them? See: parental notification, no transfer of minors across state lines.
4. The Supreme Court is stupid. These laws aim to pass a state-level law that can be challenged and appealed up to the Supreme Court, where they believe Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Any and every attempt to thumb their nose at the law that protects women is on the table – usually without exceptions for the life and health of the mother. See: complete abortion bans, fetal personhood, personhood at heartbeat, egg-as-person.
5. Abortion providers are evil. These laws (TRAPs - Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) place onerous and expensive regulations and restrictions on abortion providers. These laws use highly targeted strategies to force abortion providers to close; denying women access not only to abortion services, but also the crucial reproductive health care those providers usually offer. See: extensive reporting requirements, mandatory presence of a registered nurse in addition to the doctor, annual clinic inspections, additional equipment or structural regulations, private insurance restrictions, public funding restrictions.
What can you do? Let others know about the conservative playbook. The more aware we, as progressives, are of conservative tactics, the better prepared we are to fight back. And hold your elected officials accountable - call, write, organize campaigns, sign petitions. Don't let them pass these bills in your state without fighting back.
If you think I've missed anything, please add them in the comments below.