Abortion rights are striking back in some state legislatures

Recent state legislative efforts to ban abortion and get Roe v. Wade overturned have put the lunacy of this frenzied, radical movement on full display. In Alabama, for example, State Senator Clyde Chambliss defended his bill banning abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest by repeatedly and crazily asserting that the bill, which just became law, somehow allows women to get an abortion before they know they are pregnant. In Missouri, state Representative Barry Hovis argued for the passage of a similarly draconian bill by describing many rapes as being curiously “consensual.”

While these developments are deeply disturbing, not all is doom and gloom. A contrary storyline involving the strengthening and expansion of abortion rights has been advancing through the fog with comparatively little media coverage. On Tuesday, important state bills in different parts of the country cleared key legislative hurdles.

The Nevada Assembly passed a bill that would remove the requirement that a doctor must certify a pregnant woman’s marital status, age and written consent before performing an abortion. Doctors would also no longer be required to discuss the “emotional implications” of abortion with women who want the procedure. In addition, the bill would decriminalize both the sale of drugs to induce miscarriages and the giving of advice to women seeking abortions or self-inducing miscarriages. Currently, Nevada law considers such activities to be felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

On the same day, Maine’s House of Representatives voted to expand the category of medical professionals who may legally perform abortions in the state. If enacted into law, the bill would allow a “physician assistant or an advanced practice registered nurse” to perform an abortion, in addition to a qualified doctor.

This simultaneous narrative did not just begin on Tuesday. A week prior, Maine’s Senate followed the House in voting to require the state’s Medicaid program and private insurers to cover abortion. Back in January, New York passed the Reproductive Health Act to ensure that Roe v. Wade’s protections will survive if the landmark decision were to get overturned. Donald “Grab ‘em by the Pussy” Trump may sit in the Oval Office and his party may shamefully be racing to turn the country into Margaret Atwood’s Gilead, but progress perseveres. But these examples remind us that there are lawmakers out there who care about women’s health and respect a woman’s right to make difficult personal decisions about her own body.

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