Most Important Article of the Day – 06/15/15

Today’s most important article goes to Renee Bracey Sherman of Ebony Magazine. For years, abortions rights advocates have focused on the violations of women’s bodies and privacy through legislative bills in states around the country such as the infamous “Transvaginal Ultrasound” bill passed by former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (who was convicted of 11 felony public corruption charges and was sentenced to a 2-year prison sentence). Recently, current Wisconsin Governor (and likely Republican presidential candidate) Scott Walker defended his 2013 bill which requires mandatory ultrasounds for women before seeking an abortion as a “cool thing” (full quote and context here).

While these are certainly valid concerns about the increasing number of bills appearing in states to curtail reproductive rights, the heart of the issue should be the effects these bills have on low-income women, and in particular women of color. Here is just the latest example of how closing abortion clinics and not providing ubiquitous access to contraception hurts these two vulnerable populations (from the article):

“On Saturday, 23-year-old Kenlissa Jones of Albany, Georgia was arrested and held without bond at the Dougherty County jail on charges of “malice murder” and “possession of a dangerous drug” for self-inducing her own abortion. Jones reportedly told a hospital social worker that she had taken four Cytotec pills, also known as misoprostol, which she purchased on the Internet from Canada…

Current law in Georgia requires that abortions after 12 weeks must be performed in a licensed hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or abortion facility. In 2012, the state passed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, however the law is currently held up in the courts due to an injunction…

Like two-thirds of women having an abortion, Jones was already a parent to her 1-year-old son…

According to the National Abortion Federation, the closest abortion provider to her in southern Georgia is 90 minutes away, and that clinic stops performing abortions at 14 weeks. Even if Jones made the three-hour trip to a clinic that could see her in Atlanta, she’d have to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion…”

It is important to protect the reproductive rights of all women. But the truth is that the most devastating consequences of these laws affect women who do not have the means to effective contraception, funds for travel and hotels (to comply with waiting periods) and already have families with limited means to take care of them. This woman will be separated from her son because she was forced to take drastic measures to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. This woman may be put in jail for something that I as a male will never have to worry about. Unfortunately, as the number of laws that make it harder to access abortion increase and become validated (recent ones in Texas are the latest example), the harder life will get for women in this country, particularly poor women of color. Republicans have learned from the successes of the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976. While they know they will never make abortion fully illegal in all circumstances, they can use laws passed in the states and congress to create an uneven playing field for women seeking abortions. Great article by Sherman, but an unnerving  and unsettling feeling for women across the country who could face similar predicaments to Kenlissa Jones.


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