Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and “West Wing” star Bradley Whitford stumped for Hillary Clinton on April 2 and talked about Planned Parenthood support from young people. Photo by Mrill Ingram. Trump photo by Gage Skidmore.
People may have finally had enough of Donald Trump’s big mouth—especially women. Seven in ten women voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Presidential candidate, according to a recent Gallup poll. Trump dug himself even deeper into the gender gap when he declared that women should be “punished” for having abortions. (He later walked back that statement.)
Ted Cruz saw an opportunity and immediately held a “celebration of women” in Madison, Wisconsin on March 30, where he showed his “softer” side by sitting in a semi-circle of women.
But if Trump’s big mouth is bad news for him—finally—perhaps it did all women a favor by exposing the truth about the “pro-life” agenda. Speaking in Madison, Wisconsin at an event for Hillary Clinton on Saturday, April 2 Cecile Richards said of Trump, “He said inartfully what others believe.”
“Women are already being punished,” she added. “Look at the gauntlet that women have to run to exercise a legal right. The same people who are so outraged at abortion are out there shouting at women, and we’ve seen a big escalation in attacks on providers. Women are already being punished and shamed.” She added:
“If Cruz and others actually believes that abortion is a crime, then the question for them is: How much time does she do? How much time does the doctor do?”
The Guttmacher Institute reports that more abortion restrictions were passed by conservative state legislatures between 2011 and 2013 than in the previous decade. Many of these are extremely harsh on both practitioners and women.
Two more recent examples include an ill-advised South Dakota law in which doctors are now compelled to inform women about an “abortion reversal” procedure for medication abortions. The law is based on the results of a single medical study of only six women in which four were able to carry a pregnancy to term after stopping medication to induce abortion. The law goes against the advice of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is added to more than twenty statements doctors are required to make, including citing medical risks and that the aborted fetus represents “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed a law in late March that holds doctors liable if a woman chooses to abort based on a fetus’s race, sex or a disability, including Down syndrome. The law, which has been described as “the kitchen sink” for its long list of restrictions, would make Indiana the first state to require fetal remains to be buried or cremated. It also includes bans on fetal tissue donation and requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges.
Patti Stauffer of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky noted that not only is Indiana among the top four states in restrictive abortion laws, but these laws also set a precedent for extremely bad government.
“Regardless of where you fall out on the abortion issue, people need to be concerned about laws like this,” she said. “This law drops the governor and politicians right into the doctor’s office between a woman and her doctor.” The language in the statute forbidding abortion in cases of “diagnoses of potential disability” is extremely vague, she points out. “Where is the line drawn? How is a physician, who is not an attorney, supposed to make decisions in this context?” Stauffer concluded:
“This is not good public policy.”
Punishments for women are not just a theoretical idea pondered by Donald Trump.
Thirty-eight states now have “fetal homicide” laws on the books, and in twenty-three of these states, these laws can be applied at any stage of pregnancy. Wisconsin Act 292 extends court jurisdiction to include “fertilized eggs, embryos, and pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy,” allowing the state to intervene when a pregnant woman is suspected of creating a ‘substantial risk’ to an egg, embryo, fetus, or child.
According to National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which keeps a database of punitive state actions directed against women who seek abortions, such “personhood” laws have resulted in, for example, the arrest of a pregnant woman on charges of attempted feticide for falling down a flight of stairs, a woman held in jail for year on murder charges for obtaining the contraceptive Depo Provera and later experiencing a miscarriage, and charges of murder brought by the state against a pregnant woman who attempted suicide during which she lost the pregnancy.
Speaking in Madison to a group of fired-up college students, Cecile Richards asked, “Are we going to be like El Salvador, where women are jailed by the police when they have a miscarriage? Are we going back to the 1950s?”
The tide may be turning.
Patti Stauffer described a “wave” of opposition in Indiana when Governor Pence signed the recent abortion legislation into law. “There has been great outcry over the passage of this bill, manifested in a whole variety of advocacy actions, particularly directed at our governor,” she said. “The medical community is extremely concerned.”
“As Planned Parenthood has been under attack in the last few years, and particularly this last year, literally hundreds of thousands of young people have gotten involved,” said Richards, who added:
“We have, right now, at least nine million supporters, which is twice the membership of the NRA.”
Richards also pointed to the drop in unintended pregnancies as a victory for Planned Parenthood: “We are at a three-year low for unintended pregnancies in this country, and that is because of all the work for reproductive health we’ve helped champion.” The Guttmacher Institute has released a study contradicting arguments by abortion opponents that fewer abortions resulted from state abortion restrictions. Instead, the study points to gains made in improved reproductive health care.
About the growing support for Planned Parenthood Richards also said, “these are young people who are figuring out that this is important to their future, and I think we are going to see that in this election as well.”