The U.S. Congress and many state legislatures are about half-way through their legislative sessions, and the midterm grade is not good news for women.
NARAL Pro-Choice America summarized that what we predicted following the 2010 elections has come to fruition: we face an unprecedented wave of attacks on women's freedom and privacy in Congress and the states.
Anti-choice politicians who campaigned on jobs and less government are now waging a War on Women that opens the door to even more government interference in personal decisions.
They started with pointed attacks on the health-care reform law that continue to today. In the past month, we witnessed House Speaker John Boehner's willingness to shut down the entire government over women's access to birth control, Pap smears, breast-cancer screenings and many other types of preventive health care.
Fortunately, President Obama and pro-choice leaders in the Senate stood strong against this attack.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the War on Women.
Next, the U.S. House of Representatives will likely vote on H.R.3, the dangerous "Stupak on Steroids" bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). This bill attacks private insurance coverage of abortion, and could spur the Internal Revenue Service to audit survivors of sexual assault who choose abortion care.
H.R.3 already has 227 co-sponsors. This means that if a vote were held today, this bill would pass the House!
One thing that strikes me is the hypocrisy of the lawmakers who are behind this agenda.
These so-called small government politicians are opening the door to more political interference in our personal, private decisions at every turn.
This is not some abstract debate about politics. The anti-choice agenda threatens women's access to legal abortion, birth control, cancer screenings, and other health-care services. It is out of touch with our country's values and priorities.
While the War on Women rages in Washington, D.C., state lawmakers are following suit. NARAL Pro-Choice America is currently tracking more than twice as many anti-choice bills in 2011 as were introduced in all of 2010. At last count, we're tracking 427 bills, compared to 175 last year.
We are monitoring five key trends this year: abortion-coverage bans, Nebraska copycat bans, mandatory-ultrasound legislation, "personhood" measures, and race- and sex-based attacks. In all five cases, the news for women is dire.
- 23 states have filed 53 bills to ban abortion coverage in state exchanges or statewide, including the private market.
- 15 states are looking to copy Nebraska with abortion bans, three of which have succeeded.
- We are tracking 23 anti-choice ultrasound-related bills in 14 states.
- "Personhood" bills -- which could ban abortion and even some common forms of birth control -- are on the docket in 14 states.
- We are monitoring 8 race- and/or sex-based attacks, and Arizona has passed the first such law in the nation based on this logic.
Let's take a closer look at Ohio, which experienced a dramatic political shift after the 2010 elections. Since taking power in January, anti-choice politicians have introduced seven bills designed to attack women's freedom and privacy. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, has been fighting some of the worst attacks we've seen in the nation. One bill in the Ohio legislature could ban abortion care before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
The politicians behind this agenda are out of line. Apparently they want a government just small enough to fit inside our bedrooms and our medicine cabinets.
As anti-choice lawmakers overstep and over-reach, their extreme attacks bring more and more people to our cause.
On April 7, 4,000 pro-choice Americans came to Washington, D.C. to lobby their member of Congress.
We are adding an average of 1,000 names a day to our email activist list.
We have channeled more than 400,000 messages to Congress in opposition to the anti-choice agenda alone.
Just last week, more than 240 of our activists submitted letters to the editor calling on their members of Congress to oppose the coming anti-choice attacks.
America's pro-choice majority is mobilized, galvanized and standing up to stop the War on Women. Politicians who fail to heed the message will have a steep price to pay in 2012.
Follow Nancy Keenan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NARAL