The overturning of Roe v. Wade by a hyper-partisan Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 was shocking but not surprising. The movement to take back women’s rights to their own bodies has been in the making for over 30 years, first as a cynical political ploy to increase engagement of Republican voters, then an ideological war waged by a generation of conservative men and women brainwashed by a steady stream of right-wing propaganda disseminated by radio, TV, and evangelical Christian preachers and organizations.
As soon as the Supreme Court ruled that the right to reproductive freedom was now open for legislation at the state level, every state in the grip of a Republican legislature swung into action with pre-prepared bills that banned abortion under any circumstances, including rape, incest, and the health of the mother. Perhaps the most stunning case was that of the 10-year-old Ohioan girl who was pregnant by rape but had to travel to Indiana to get services. Now several states are even attempting to ban travel to other states for abortion, make it a crime to aid or assist in getting an abortion, and preventing women in their state from accessing medication for abortion by mail. We are witnessing an unprecedented attack on women’s rights at this very moment.
Faced with a situation where the Women’s Health Safety Act of 2021 (already passed by a Democratic House was dead in the Senate due to conservative Democratic senators Manchin (West Virginia) and Sinema (Arizona), President Biden has deployed the only tool he has to safeguard women’s rights at the federal level. He has signed Executive Order 14076, which does the following:
· Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to expand access to contraceptives,
· Requests the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protect patients' reproductive health privacy, and
· Directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to organize a group of pro bono lawyers to defend women charged with having an abortion.
In response, the DHHS has come out with a set of guidelines that affirm that:
· Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to provide you with birth control and family planning counseling with no out-of-pocket costs.
· Medication abortion has been approved by the FDA since 2000 as a safe and effective option. Federal regulation permits medication abortion to be dispensed by telehealth and sent by mail via certified prescribers and pharmacies, in addition to in-person dispensing in clinics, medical offices, and hospitals.
· Under federal law, Medicaid will cover abortion services only in the circumstances of rape, incest or if the patient’s life is in danger.
· If you need help paying for an abortion, abortion funds may be able to provide financial assistance. Information about abortion funds and resources to help are available at AbortionFinder.org.
· If you need information on your state’s laws or legal help, you may consider this website: AbortionFinder.org
The FTC has warned that tech companies and data brokers that misuse or misrepresent how they handle Americans' personal data, including reproductive health information, may find themselves on the hook with the agency.
The DOJ says:
· The Department will continue to protect healthcare providers and individuals seeking reproductive health services in states where those services remain legal. This law prohibits anyone from obstructing access to reproductive health services through violence, threats of violence, or property damage.
· States may not ban Mifepristone (an abortion drug) based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy.
· Federal agencies may continue to provide reproductive health services to the extent authorized by federal law. And federal employees who carry out their duties by providing such services must be allowed to do so free from the threat of liability.
Despite the pushback by the federal government, we have to recognize that even these paltry efforts can be revoked by the next administration if it does not care for the rights of women. The only way to enshrine women’s rights under law is to make sure that President Biden gets enough friendly senators after the midterms in November that the Women’s Health Safety Act can be passed in the Senate, protecting vulnerable women in all states. On your part, check out this list of Senate races in play and consider giving them your time, your energy, and your money.
Your daughter’s future may depend on it.