Washington, DC - Despite strong opposition from their constituents, state legislatures across the country have continued to advance dangerous and out-of-touch measures to ban abortion and interfere in the doctor, patient relationship. Just this week, significant attention was paid to South Dakota, after State Representative Isaac Latterell, an outspoken opponent of safe and legal abortion, claimed Planned Parenthood is “worse than ISIS," in his efforts to promote an extreme abortion restriction.
In Ohio and South Carolina, politicians have introduced measures banning abortions as early as 6 weeks - and in Colorado and Florida, have introduced legislation to ban abortion outright. A number of states - including South Carolina and West Virginia - are considering measures to ban abortions at 20 weeks.
What’s clear is Americans don’t want this. Nearly 80 percent of the American public wants to ensure that abortion remains safe and legal. By double digits, voters in South Dakota have twice rejected ballot initiatives that would have banned abortion. So-called personhood ballot initiatives were rejected in November by large majorities in both Colorado and in North Dakota, where voters also defeated one of the bills key sponsors. That’s because despite what some politicians and pundits might say — access to reproductive health care is not a partisan issue.
The good news is that some politicians are beginning to recognize that these attacks are too extreme. First, the House of Representatives abruptly pulled a vote on a 20-week ban bill due to dissention within the GOP caucus. Just this week in NewHampshire, a bipartisan majority in the state legislature rejected a bill that would have attempted to block women from getting basic preventive services at Planned Parenthood health centers across the state — including affordable birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing and other essential care. Not only did we beat back an out-of-touch measure — but we did so with support from 76 Republican elected officials. Finally, late last night in the wake of a national blowback against South Dakota State Representative Isaac Latterell’s deeply offensive and out-of-touch comments, the South Dakota legislature gutted Latterell’s bill and passed it as a resolution supporting the sanctity of human life.
We need to continue advocating for what works instead of advancing an extreme agenda that would take women and families backward; and that starts by recognizing that for women, the ability to decide whether and when to have children is key to economic success.
A 2012 University of Michigan study found that fully one-third of the wage gains women have made since the 1960s are the result of access to oral contraceptives. This study also found that the decrease in the gap among 25–49-year-olds between men’s and women’s annual incomes “would have been 10 percent smaller in the 1980s and 30 percent smaller in the 1990s” in the absence of widespread legal birth control access.