Sunday, September 25, 2011

Republican War On Birth Control

With Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) leading the war on women, Texas Republicans this year cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds. When the Texas Tribune asked Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said:
“Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything.”
Family planning clinics are routinely referred to by many Republican lawmakers across the U.S. as “abortion clinics.” None of the 71 family planning clinics in the state of Texas that receive government funding provide abortions. Those family planning clinics provide reproductive health care services to women as well as information about and access to contraceptives.

Listen to NPR's report on Texas' Cuts to Women's access to birth control choices
As NPR notes, the state estimates that 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services because of these cuts, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. “Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.”

The GOP’s concerted campaign against women’s health and right to choose to use birth control prescriptions has resulted in about 1,000 anti-abortion bills in state legislatures across the country that include attempts to eradicate women’s access to contraceptives by redefining “personhood” rights as beginning at the moment of conception. Such laws will criminalize the most common birth control choice - the birth control pill.

Mississippians are set to vote on a ballot measure this November that would redefine the word "person" in the state constitution to include embryos and a fertilized egg that hasn't even yet implanted in the womb. Members of the medical and legal communities have raised concerns that the amendment could have unforeseen, far-reaching implications for women's health, such as banning the birth control pill, which prevents pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research.

In defining a legal human being from the moment of fertilization, Mississippi Initiative 26, often called the "Personhood Amendment," would criminalize abortion in Mississippi, with no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother. Personhood USA, the advocacy group pushing the amendment, and the Yes on 26 campaign are painting the issue as a black-and-white abortion ban.

"Plain and simple, this seeks to establish human life in the womb," Greg Sanders, the executive director of the Yes on 26 campaign, told HuffPost. "Obviously there's no exception for rape and incest. It's a human life, no matter how it's created."

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the language could also have a whole host of legal implications, including some that have nothing to do with women's health.

"What does it mean for property or inheritance law? What happens when you're trying to make districts for voting, and you have to consider fertilized eggs as legal persons?" she told HuffPost. "The meaning of the provision could come up in any number of lawsuits."

Many people do not remember that the purchase and use of birth control products, even by married couples, was against the law in many states until 1965. Use of birth control products may again be criminalized in states that pass "personhood" laws or constitutional amendments.

There are those who, for the last 46 years, have worked to reverse the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court finding that Americans have a fundamental right of privacy to make family planning decisions, which includes the right to use birth control contraceptives.

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