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Women's Rights Facing Greatest Threat of Our Lifetime, Say Democrats

When house Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke to reporters today about the three reproductive-rights related bills Republicans are hoping to advance, she did not mince words. “They’re advancing extreme legislation,” Pelosi said.  “It’s dangerous to women’s health, disrespects the judgment of American women — I don’t know if they even gave that a thought — and it’s the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health in our lifetime. It’s that bad.”

I have to agree with her. What’s on the table is some serious and scary stuff.  So scary, I’m surprised people aren’t freaking out about it. That may be because, as Pelosi suggests, women have become complacent, perhaps taking their reproductive rights for granted. But the changes these bills hope to implement will not be ignorable. They have serious implications for American women’s health- for this and future generations.

One bill would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform an emergency pregnancy termination that could save her life.

Hospitals that are against abortion are currently not required to perform them. But they are required to provide a transfer to another facility when the woman’s life is endangered. The bill that’s currently on the table, known as the Protect Life act, would release hospitals from doing anything at all if confronted with a life threatening situation where an abortion would secure the mother’s welfare. They can simply turn her away and let her die.

Then there’s Mike Pence’s bill, which cuts off federal funding for any groups that offer abortion access.  These  are often the same groups that provide birth control and affordable reproductive health care to young and/or poor women, ie Planned Parenthood. Nothing like cutting off access to birth control to keep those unwanted pregnancies to a minimum, guys.

And don’t forget the bill denying tax credits and benefits to companies whose employee health insurance covers abortions.

These bills are likely to have enough support to pass in the House. Which is, to me, pretty scary. Perhaps even scarier: Pelosi’s hope for opposition lies in the Tea Party.

“I can’t believe that everybody who is anti a woman’s right to choose is anti-birth control and contraception and family planning. But we don’t know that, and we don’t have any idea — or I don’t, anyway — where the Tea Party people come down in all of this.”

I have to say I don’t feel all that reassured by this. Having children has definitely complicated my stance on abortion—for myself. But my politics have only been reinforced by a first hand understanding of what it means to bear and raise a child.  And although all these proposed laws are driven by the opposition to abortion, abortion is not all they’re about. These are women’s lives we’re talking about. And girls’ lives, too. Girls like our daughters, who may be living in a very different reproductive future.

photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr

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