Women’s reproductive rights already looked bleak in January 2017 when a man-child who had been credibly accused of countless sexual assaults and suggested that women should be punished for abortions became President of the United States. Since then, Donald Trump’s off-the-rails Republican party has been tripping over itself to pass disturbing abortion laws in the hope that something will succeed in getting the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
While Trump has been complaining about toilet bowls and harassing a kid for being featured by a magazine, two key legal developments regarding abortion happened this week that should not go unnoticed. The first one is positive and encouraging while the second one should serve as yet another reminder that Trump is just one of many Republicans who need to go.
Starting with the good news, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night affirmed a district court’s decision to strike down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. U.S. Appeals Court Judge Patrick Higginbotham ruled that Mississippi may “regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right.” However, bans “on pre-viability abortions… are unconstitutional regardless of the State’s interests.” Mississippi is just one of nine states that have this year tried to ban abortion past a certain point in a pregnancy, yet all have failed.
In addition to trying to limit abortions, GOP-run state legislatures appear to have a passion for shaming abortion-seeking women and their doctors. This week, by declining to hear an appeal, the Supreme Court is letting stand a Kentucky law that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion and review it with them. As Anna Silman of New York magazine relates through detailed interviews with women who have been forced to endure an unwanted and unnecessary ultrasound before an abortion, this experience is extremely dehumanizing and distressing.
Robert De Niro put it bluntly to CNN’s Brian Stelter in September when he said, “This guy should not be President. Period.” Indeed, whether Trump leaves office through electoral defeat or removal, it will be a banner day for America. But if America is to stop being pulled down the frightening path toward resembling Margaret Atwood’s Gilead, then a massive blue wave is needed next year. People who delight in controlling and disrespecting women have no business being in government.