Draconian anti-abortion legislation has reached a new record in the United States.
Through this September, 106 restrictions on abortions have become law, which is more abortion restrictions than any other year. For context, the previous record on anti-abortion laws was in 2011, with 89 restrictions. According to an analysis by The 19th, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that reports on gender, politics, and policy, these 106 limitations have been passed by 19 statehouses across the United States.
In total more than 1,330 restrictions that have been enacted since the Supreme Court favorably ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Perhaps the most well-known restriction nowadays is the recent Texas abortion ban, which prohibits abortions after only six weeks of gestation and deputizes ordinary citizens as abortion bounty hunters. However, this is far from the only oppressive anti-abortion law. For example, 45 states allow health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion procedure on religious grounds; 18 states have mandated counseling that includes misinformation like a purported phony link between abortion and breast cancer, fetal pain and mental health consequences; 25 states require a person to wait for their abortion procedure anywhere from 24-72 hours after receiving counseling, and only 16 states financially assist low-income women in obtaining abortion care.
Cumulatively, this creates a health- and life-endangering system. Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for Guttmacher Institute, explains that “Each new individual restriction forces people to navigate another barrier, and any one restriction — new or old — may be the restriction a patient cannot overcome.”
Indeed, these restrictions are counter to the guidance of medical associations and human rights organizations alike. After the Texas abortion ban went into effect on Sept. 1, the American Medical Association released a statement that declared such a ban “interferes in the patient-physician relationship and places bounties on physicians and health care workers simply for delivering care” and “places physicians’ clinical judgement and patient access to safe care in dire peril.” Additionally, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an organization of 57,000 members in the United States, has declared that abortion is health care and that “sound health policy is best based on scientific fact and evidence-based medicine.”
Furthermore, the United Nations states that abortion is a human right and that denying access is discrimination and can constitute gender-based violence, torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
After all, abortion is extremely safe with major complications in less than a quarter of 1 percent of procedures. This is less than complications from wisdom tooth removals and tonsillectomies. Additionally, 99 percent of women feel relief after an abortion — not regret.
Nevertheless, religious extremists ignore science and are stripping women from their constitutional and human right to an abortion. That is why we need the Women’s Health Protection Act more than ever. The Women’s Health Protection Act safeguards abortion rights by nullifying state abortion bans. It also guarantees the right for patients to receive abortion care and for health care professionals to provide abortions. Additionally, the act protects against medically unnecessary restrictions, such as mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, admitting privilege requirements and limits on medication abortion. Such restrictions create burdensome barriers to abortion access.
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The Freedom From Religion Foundation submitted formal testimony in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act and thanks to the work of many activist citizens, including FFRF members, the act passed the House. It is now in the Senate — where it will no doubt face a lot of resistance. It’s vital that we ensure that our secular voices are heard. Call your senators to tell them to work to pass this important piece of abortion legislation so that these hundreds of restrictions are nullified.