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The Nationwide Effort To Restrict Reproductive Rights

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As has been noted here and elsewhere, 2011 has seen a nationwide resurgence in the effort to curtail women's reproductive rights. I know! It's almost as if an entire political faction that preaches the importance of a small and unintrusive government doesn't actually mean it, right?

Here in Washington, D.C., we've seen the House of Representatives pass an amendment that would defund Planned Parenthood and attempt to create a whole new crazy definition of rape. And state governments have been doing much the same: South Dakota lawmakers briefly floated the idea of making protecting the unborn a justifiable reason to commit homicide -- with language that didn't make it clear that abortion providers who perform legal medical procedures wouldn't be, in some way, protected from the crazy people who believe they are morally allowed to murder them. That law's been shelved in South Dakota, but it's being emulated elsewhere.

And others are going further, including a Georgia lawmaker who's crafted a law that would make miscarriages a felony. Again, there's vague wording there, that seemingly exempts miscarriages that are not brought about by "human involvement." Unfortunately, medical professionals do not know, with precision, what causes miscarriages, and the law doesn't set sufficient parameters.

But that's all beside the point: why bring miscarriages into the matter at all? No one has ever suggested that miscarriages of any sort by subject to criminal penalty, so why start now? The answer is that this is all some "moving the Overton Window" nonsense -- by pushing boundaries further past the fringe, it makes the original fringe position more palatable. I've said this once before, but it bears repeating:

Just to review, the way this game is played is that a legislator will conceive of an absolutely insane anti-woman law, stoke outrage, then make a big show of relenting on the crazy part of the law in order to get what they want -- making abortion illegal -- enacted. They will then aver that this is the result of "negotiations" in which "all sides" have been "heard out" resulting in a "compromise."

Here, for your benefit, we've collected many examples of the ways in which reproductive rights are being encroached upon. Some are more reasonable sounding than others. There's a wide gulf between a radical redefinition of rape and a law that aims to shut down abortion providers in the name of enhanced patient comfort. But one thing that all of these laws have in common is that they suggest a deep and abiding belief that women are chattel.

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Anti-Abortion Bills Around the Nation
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