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Reproductive Rights Are at Risk

This year, once again, we see conservative candidates running for office promising economic reform. But if they win, we can expect more of the same culture war maneuvering when they take office.

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Yesterday marked the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion—after a year that saw unprecedented assaults on access to abortion care and family planning services.

In the midterm elections of 2010, politicians ran on the economy, promising to produce jobs when they took office. It was on this theme that conservative candidates swept into office and sent progressives packing. This meant that abortion opponents took control of the House of Representatives, the margin in the Senate narrowed, and 15 states became fully antichoice, meaning that both their governors and legislatures opposed reproductive rights.

Thus when the dust cleared, we saw little work done on an economic agenda (unless you count attempts to dismantle organized labor). Instead, both parties were pushed in a much more socially conservative direction and reproductive rights were placed in the crosshairs as never before.

The result: A solidly antichoice House of Representatives voted eight times on abortion-related matters in 2011 and almost shut down the government because of fights over abortion and family planning. And according to the Guttmacher Institute, the states enacted 92 new restrictions on abortion services, which “shattered” the prior record of 34 new limitations in 2005. These measures included requirements to view ultrasounds before an abortion, bans on abortion after 20 weeks due to the spurious claim that fetuses could feel pain by then, and exclusions of abortion coverage from health insurance exchanges.

This year, once again, we see conservative candidates running for office promising economic reform. But if they win, we can expect more of the same culture war maneuvering when they take office.

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