Well, let me fill you in so you can spread the word.
For the past 10 years, abortion rights have been under attack, mostly in very sneaky ways and with very little public outrage. But sometimes something would happen that was so bad it caught a news cycle. We all remember last year when Alabama passed a law to impose a 99-year jail sentence if a doctor provides abortion. Or when an Ohio politician proposed a law to ban abortion for ectopic pregnacies, and instead insisted someone could receive an imaginary medical procedure to re-implant the fertilized egg into the womb.
How is this still happening?
We all thought back in 2013 when we watched Wendy Davis stand for 13 hours and argue against those awful abortion laws in Texas, that it was the start of a “Never again” consensus. People were fired up! When the Governor of Texas signed this bill into law anyway, that didn’t stop the brave independent abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health from continuing to fight on behalf of their patients!
In fact, they fought all the way to the Supreme Court. It took three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars, but in 2016 the Supreme Court reaffirmed in the case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt that those Texas anti-abortion laws were not written for the well-being of the patient, but created simply to cause an “undue burden” on patients trying to access abortion care. And that, they ruled was unconstitutional.
Settled law. Precedent set. Abortion is secured as a constitutional right! We can move on right?
Enter the state of Louisiana and its merry band of gynoticians. They were like, “Who cares what the Supreme Court ruled. Let’s try it again.” And they did. Word for word.
Louisiana passed the exact same part of the Texas law that dealt with requiring doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges. The law states any doctor who provides abortion must be able to admit a patient to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. This may seem reasonable, but it’s really a trap to close down clinics. You see, abortion providers are often denied these privileges for many reasons, none have to do with whether or not they are good doctors.
One reason is that a religiously affiliated hospital doesn’t believe in abortion. Well in a very Catholic state like Louisiana, you have a lot of Catholic hospitals saying, deny, deny, deny.
A bigger reason hospitals may reject privileges for a doctor who provides abortion is that to obtain them, a doctor must show they will generate a patient load for the hospital, so the hospital can make money. But, abortion is so safe that doctors can’t prove they will bring in patients, so guess what? Deny, deny deny.
To recap this whacktackery: For the safety of the patient, the state wants to force doctors who provide abortions to get admitting privileges in order to provide care, but doctors can’t get admitting privileges because the procedure is so safe patients won’t be admitted. And if they don’t get the privileges, their clinic will close because they can’t get what they don’t need.
That's why in 2016 the court said, “Get outta here with this ish.”
So what changed in four years that could justify the Supreme Court going against their own precedent? Did remarkable new science come out that said if you have a uterus you can’t actually make decisions?
And to give you the hard facts of how this case, called, June Medical Services v. Gee, will effect Louisiana: If this law is upheld, this time, only one doctor in the entire state of Louisiana could provide abortion.
But that, my friends, is just the first part of this case. There is a second piece that Louisiana has asked the court to rule on and that is whether clinics that provide abortion have the legal right to challenge these laws on behalf of their patients. Like they have in, oh every case defending abortion rights, ever.
If the court rules that clinics can’t sue, just who do they expect to challenge these horrible laws? If you guessed, “People seeking abortions” you would be correct. How messed up is that? These lawmakers are so cruel that they want to put the burden on patients to argue for their own humanity in these nonsense bureaucratic cases. Every time!
No compassionate human thinks someone seeking an abortion should have to go public to challenge a law and face the threats and stigma to do so. Not to mention the thousands of dollars and years it takes to get justice. It is a set up to force all these horrible laws that get passed to go unchallenged! And to force those seeking abortions, to give birth.
Think about it.
Someone is denied access to abortion and is forced to sue to challenge the law. It takes 3 years to go through the court system, and the pregnancy they wanted to terminate takes… You see how this ends right? Clinics sue to protect their patient’s constitutional right to abortion. They do so to guarantee the health, dignity and self-determination of every patient because those are crucial components of our human rights.
So how can you fight back? By fighting in the front.
Anti-abortion laws that burden patients are being proposed and passed in every single state legislature in America. So do some research. See who the reps are in your district and how they stand on your right to abortion. Then let them know how you feel. Over and over again.
And if you are feeling super outraged, you can join me and my kickass warriors at Abortion Access Front on March 4th in DC to stand in front of The Supreme Court to let Louisiana and the Uteri of America know, “We Gotchu.”
Lizz Winstead is the co-creator of The Daily Show, a stand-up comedian, and the founder and CEO of Abortion Access Front. The opinions expressed here are her own.