How Not To Celebrate Roe v. Wade

The GOP can't decide how to restrict women's reproductive rights.

GOP Has Internal Disagreement Over The Best Way To Revoke Reproductive Rights


On the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we should be celebrating a monumental Supreme Court decision ensuring that women across the country have the constitutional right to be in control of their own bodies. Congressional Republicans and others, however, have used it as an opportunity to decry a woman’s right to choose. And even worse, they are still fighting amongst themselves over how.

Since before Republicans won last November’s election, they were plotting to pass the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, through Congress. A number of prominent Republicans endorsed the proposal, and Republicans had planned to pass it through the House of Representatives today, on the 42nd anniversary.

Fortunately for the rest of us, an internal split driven by a small group of Republican women forced House leaders to table that bill. Many of the defectors remained anti-choice in supporting a 20-week ban, and worried that the bill had too narrow an exemption for rape victims. Others were concerned about the Republican focus on social issues and alienating Millennials and women. The law was written so that victims of sexual assault can only claim an exemption to the abortion ban if they reported the incident to the police — even though it’s very rare for rape victims to officially report.

Instead, Republicans passed H.R. 7, which would codify the ban on federal funding for abortion. This bill would only continue the reality that for millions of low-income women and servicewomen, reproductive rights are not guaranteed. Reproductive rights are intrinsically tied to economic security for women, and studies have shown that when low-income women do not have abortion coverage in their health insurance, they often have to choose between having an abortion and paying for basic goods like rent and food. In addition, because of laws like H.R. 7, enlisted women are often required to pay for abortions out of pocket, while many struggle to make ends meet.

Of course, this is part of a long-running pattern by the Republican Party to take choice out of women’s hands. Nine states ban abortion after 20 weeks and another two states ban abortion after only 18 weeks. And Republican-controlled state legislatures are moving to chip away at reproductive rights in a number of other states, including in Kansas, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, despite the abortion rate hitting a 40-year low in 2011.

BOTTOM LINE: Anti-choice members of Congress have the wrong priorities: Americans want us to focus on the economy, not restrict or ban abortion. Not only that, but by continuing to attack reproductive rights instead of support them, these lawmakers fail to recognize how reproductive rights are deeply connected to families’ economic well-being. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we should be focusing on how to ensure that all women have access to all their rights, instead of strategizing over the best ways to take rights away.

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