It’s flown under the radar, but don’t miss one of the most significant trends in politics now: Emboldened by their successful theft of a Supreme Court seat, Republicans in states across the country and their compatriots in Washington, D.C., are moving to strip women of their rights and give the government control over women’s bodies.
And if history is any indication, they won’t stop until they’ve ended reproductive freedom as we know it.
We’ve known for decades that the GOP is hard-set on overturning Roe v. Wade, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women for seeking healthcare, but recently, with the support of an anti-choice president who has promised to end Roe, they have drastically ramped up their attacks on women’s fundamental rights.
From outright absurdity to thinly veiled partisan chicanery, these legislative attacks run the gamut:
In Georgia, Ohio, and Mississippi, Republican legislatures — in lockstep not only with their Republican governors, but the Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration — have recently passed dangerous bills that would ban abortion at six weeks, which is before many women even know they are pregnant. From Kentucky to North Dakota and across the country, these laws, which would effectively and unconstitutionally ban all abortion, have consistently been blocked by federal judges but continue to gain traction in statehouses.
In Iowa, a bill that would define personhood beginning at fertilization is making its way through the state legislature and dangerously close to becoming law. In North Carolina, the legislature recently passed a bill that criminalizes doctors who provide life-saving care to women who may need an abortion later in pregnancy. And in Texas, lawmakers proposed a bill that would make it possible for women who have an abortion and doctors who treat them to be charged with homicide, which in Texas is punishable by the death penalty. Overall, more than 250 anti-choice bills have been filed in 41 states across the country.
We desperately need pro-choice Democratic women in office across the country, who will block Republican attempts to use women’s health as a political playing card and stand up for our fundamental rights.
Right-wing state legislatures are experimenting on us with a purpose: teeing up court challenges with the hope that Trump’s Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Absent from all of this dangerous political theater is a serious conversation about the health and wellbeing of women and their families. When state legislatures like Mississippi’s — where nearly 1% of infants born die before age one, the highest rate in the country — and Georgia’s — where the maternal mortality rate is horrendous and only getting worse — pass bill after bill to limit women’s reproductive rights, but do nothing to fix these devastating problems, they are showing their hypocrisy. They make it blatantly clear what these bills are about. And it’s not about the women that they were elected to represent.
This is a crisis. We desperately need pro-choice Democratic women in office across the country, who will block Republican attempts to use women’s health as a political playing card and stand up for our fundamental rights. Time and time again we’ve seen that when Democratic women are in charge — in state legislatures, as governors, and in Congress — they save lives.
During the 2018 election cycle, we took back the House of Representatives and flipped state chambers across the country by electing committed and passionate women who will fight to protect their constituents’ healthcare. But we have a long way to go.
Yes, Donald Trump and his antics take up a lot of air and attention, and we’re certain he will continue to use his executive power to undermine our rights through measures like the global gag rule, which bans organizations receiving federal funding from even discussing abortion as a healthcare option. But we cannot forget the very real threat to women’s health in state after state across the country. We will only see better policies that help women and families and stop the policing of our bodies if we elect more pro-choice Democratic women to office, particularly at the state level. We can’t forget the women who will be harmed by the Republican Party’s agenda.
Stephanie Schriock is the president of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office. The views expressed are her own.