If there was a gold medal for playing whack-a-mole, the prochoice community would win, hands down. As soon as we defeat one anti-chioce bill, another one pops up. But the tide may (hopefully) be turning.
All too often, anti-choice wins dominate the news. But just three months in to 2014, there are three positive indicators of prochoice progress at the state level that deserve attention.
This week, Colorado Democrats voted down House Bill 1133, which would have banned abortion in almost all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest. Proposed by Republican Rep. Steve Humphrey, HB1133 also sought to make it a Class 3 felony for a physician to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 12 years in prison. According to KDVR, the bill was widely defeated by a 9-2 vote, with two Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voting against it.
The Granite State’s senate recently passed a bill establishing a 25-foot buffer zone around its abortion clinics, with four Republicans crossing the aisle to vote in favor of it. If signed into law, New Hampshire will be the third state in the country, joining Massachusetts and Colorado, to have a state-wide policy. Buffer zones, which aim to protect clinic patients, staff and escorts from protestor harassment and intimidation, are usually municipal in nature. For example, Englewood, New Jersey’s city council is currently considering one in response to an uptick in clinic protests. But make no mistake, buffer zones are not just small, local matters. Massachusetts’ law is currently the subject of a pending SCOTUS challenge with far-reaching implications, depending on how the Justices rule.
Just last month, the SCOTUS ruled that Arizona can not withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortion care. This ruling puts and end to the long battle centered on HB2800, which Arizona passed in 2012. As RH Reality Check explains, this bill “would have excluded physicians who provide safe, legal abortion from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state’s Medicaid system. In February 2013, a federal district court found that the law violated the federal Medicaid Act, which protects patients’ rights to make their own decisions about health-care providers and permanently blocked the law from taking effect. Last August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed that decision.”
These prochoice wins highlight a perceptible shift in tolerance for anti-choice attempts to eliminate women’s access to abortion care. And, as demonstrated by the three cases above, the pushback isn’t exclusively orchestrated by Democrats or “liberal” states. GOPers — and even the Roberts’ Court — are championing the prochoice cause. Now, perhaps more than ever, the prochoice community is reclaiming its power as voters and legislators. Let’s leverage this progress to re-energize our efforts and keep up the momentum!