by Kaiser Health News | Updated on 1.9.19
With Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it might appear that the fight over abortion rights has become a standoff.
After all, abortion-rights supporters within the Democratic caucus will be in a position to block the kind of curbs that Republicans advanced over the past two years when they had control of Congress.
But those on both sides of the debate insist that won’t be the case.
Despite the Republicans’ loss of the House, anti-abortion forces gained one of their most sought-after victories in decades with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Now, with a stronger possibility of a 5-4 majority in favor of more restrictions on abortion, anti-abortion groups are eager to get test cases to the high court.
And that is just the beginning.
“Our agenda is very focused on the executive branch, the coming election, and the courts,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List. She said the new judges nominated to lower federal courts by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate reflect “a legacy win.”
The Republican majority in the U.S. Senate is expected to continue to fill the lower federal courts with judges who have been vetted by anti-abortion groups.
Abortion-rights supporters think they, too, can make strides in 2019.
“We expect 25 states to push policies that will expand or protect abortion access,” said Dr. Leana Wen, who took over as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in November. If the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned, states will decide whether abortion will be legal, and under what circumstances.
Here are four venues where the debate over reproductive health services for women will play out in 2019:
The Republican-controlled Congress proved unable in 2017 or 2018 to realize one of the anti-abortion movement’s biggest goals: evicting Planned Parenthood from Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for people who have low incomes. Abortion opponents don’t want Planned Parenthood to get federal funds because, in many states, it functions as an abortion provider (albeit with non-federal resources).
Though Republicans have a slightly larger majority in the new Senate, that majority will still be well short of the 60 votes needed to block any Democratic filibuster.
Because Democrats generally support Planned Parenthood, the power shift in the House makes the chances for defunding the organization even slimmer, much to the dismay of abortion opponents.
“We’re pretty disappointed that, despite having a Republican Congress for two years, Planned Parenthood wasn’t defunded,” said Kristan Hawkins of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America. “This was one of President Trump’s promises to the pro-life community, and he should have demanded it,” she added.
Another likely area of dispute will be the future of various anti-abortion restrictions that are routinely part of annual spending bills. These include the so-called Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal abortion funding in Medicaid and other health programs in the Department of Health and Human Services. Also disputed: restrictions on grants to international groups that support abortion rights, and limits on abortion in federal prisons and in the military.
However, now that they have a substantial majority in the House, “Democrats are on stronger grounds to demand and expect clean appropriations bills,” without many of those riders, said Wen of Planned Parenthood. While Senate Republicans are likely to eventually add those restrictions back, “they will have to go through the amendment process,” she said. And that could bring added attention to the issues.
With control of House committees, Democrats can also set agendas, hold hearings and call witnesses to talk about issues they want to promote.
“Even if the bills don’t come to fruition, putting these bills in the spotlight, forcing lawmakers to go on the record — that has value,” said Wen.
While Congress is unlikely to agree on reproductive health legislation in the coming two years, the Trump administration is still pursuing an aggressive anti-abortion agenda — using its power of regulation.
A final rule is expected any day that would cut off a significant part of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding — not from Medicaid but from the Title X Family Planning Program. Planned Parenthood annually provides family planning and other health services that don’t involve abortion to about 40 percent of the program’s 4 million patients.
The administration proposal, unveiled last May, would effectively require Planned Parenthood to physically separate facilities that perform abortions from those that provide federally funded services, and would bar abortion referrals for women who have unintended pregnancies. Planned Parenthood has said it is likely to sue over the new rules when they are finalized. The Supreme Court upheld in 1991 a similar set of restrictions that were never implemented.
Abortion opponents are also pressing to end federal funding for any research that uses tissue from aborted fetuses — a type of research that was authorized by Congress in the early 1990s.
“It’s very important we get to a point of banning” fetal tissue research “and pursuing aggressively ethical alternatives,” said Dannenfelser.
Abortion opponents having pushed through more than 400 separate abortion restrictions on the state level since 2010, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights think tank. In 2018 alone, according to Guttmacher, 15 states adopted 27 new limits on abortion and family planning.
“Absolutely some [of these are] an exercise in what they can get to go up to the Supreme Court,” said Destiny Lopez, co-director of the abortion-rights group All* Above All. “Sort of ‘Let’s throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.’”
But 2018 also marked a turning point. It was the first time in years that the number of state actions supporting abortion rights outnumbered the restrictions. For example, Massachusetts approved a measure to repeal a pre-Roe ban on abortion that would take effect if Roe were overturned. Washington state passed a law to require abortion coverage in insurance plans that offer maternity coverage.
The fate of all these policies will be decided eventually by the courts.
In fact, several state-level restrictions are already in the pipeline to the Supreme Court and could serve as a vehicle to curtail or overturn Roe v. Wade.
Among the state laws closest to triggering such a review is an Indiana law banning abortion for gender selection or genetic flaws, among other things. Also awaiting final legal say is an Alabama law banning the most common second-trimester abortion method — dilation and evacuation.
Written by Kaiser Health News
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Jesus, this comments section is filled with insane far-right ideologues claiming they want Roe v. Wade overturned! The community as a whole suffers when abortion isn’t readily available, particularly women of color. If these people actually put a minuscule amount of effort into researching the effects of attempts to ban abortion, they would know how catastrophic this decision would actually be. Child poverty rates would go up in a country that already ranks 34th in terms of child poverty rates among first-world countries. Think about that! You are actively supporting a decision that would cause children to grow up in impoverished homes where they’re more likely to be abused, obese and poor. Children from homes like that are far more likely to become criminals as a result of being raised in those environments. Hence the entire idea of family planning and having kids when you’re actually prepared to support them! You can’t claim you want a wall to keep criminals out of America while asking for a system that actively creates more of them. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it. Beyond that, not everyone believes in God, and overturning a Supreme Court ruling based on faith rather than facts is a blatant attack on the separation of church and state that this country was founded upon. The facts don’t care about your feelings, conservatives. If you don’t like abortion, move to Saudi Arabia.
Abortion should be between a woman and her medical professional and that is it. Abortion rates are the lowest they have been since Roe v. Wade and had been declining for over 30 years. Reagan made sure that federal funds can't go to abortion (unless medically necessary). What more do these pro-lifers want? We need to focus on sexual education and access to contraceptives; you know, the things that are actually proven to lower abortion rates. The fact the the GOP fights so hard for an outright ban is morally repugnant and goes against personal liberties we hold dear, like bodily autonomy.
Only a human with a uterus can understand how essential it is to have the right to make choices about one’s own body. Clearly, making abortion illegal would not stop abortions, but simply drive them underground. This would take us back to the “good old days” of women dying from back alley abortions and coat hangers. Instead, let’s expand Medicare for all, so birth control is readily available. That would greatly reduce abortions. Also, if Ruth Bader Ginsberg needs an organ, I’ll donate.
Stay out of my uterus. When you have one, you can form your own opinion about yours. Abortion is a personal choice not taken lightly. It’s a disgrace to subject a woman to harassment just because she’s making a choice. Outlawing abortion will not make it go away. Fund more free birth control.
Women disproportionately bear the consequences of giving birth to an unplanned child. They often are left to carry the financial cost of raising the child as well as the social, economic, and emotional cost of being a single parent. Having an unplanned child for a woman can impact employment opportunities and the potential advancement if she is employed. Her risk of poverty, and that of her child as well as being dependent on government assistance is greater than that of a single father, according to the data. She is still often judged negatively by society. The child may also pay a price in the stability of the environment in which he/or she develops. In the case of adoption, women bear the pain of giving up a child with many experiencing longing and/or guilt for decades. Deciding to end a pregnancy is not anything anyone wants to do and carries its own price for a woman. It is a woman who bears the risk of delivery in this country that is ranked as one of the most hazardous in the world for child-bearing. Considering who pays most of the price, I think the decision should rest with each individual woman.
These are issues not for ‘The People’ to decide, these are issues that really are deeply personal, like Faith. They should be a decision measured between the woman, her spouse, the doctor and God. What God decides for one woman/family, is not for others to come between. I’m not a fan of abortion as a form of birth control in the least. But, until we, The People, provide options for support for the most needy and heartbroken in the situation considering abortion, then we have not done what we were commanded to do, and love our neighbor.
No MAN should EVER have a say in what a woman can or cannot do with her body, except, maybe, a spouse when a woman is in a coma or unable to make her own decisions. Until you can get pregnant and carry a baby to term, keep your damn opinions to yourselves!
Chuck, what a sick, heartless f**ker you are to even suggest such a thing about a courageous, intelligent, compassionate woman like RBG. You need help, Bud. Your are beyond scary with your way-beyond-ignorant response. Remember, God may do unto you as you would do unto others. Be careful what you wish for! That f**king, ignorant pig you adore will be making your life miserable soon - with all his way beyond childish, destructive decisions. The problem is, the rest of us will feel it, too. That is why I will continue to fight until he and all the damage he has done to our country is over and he, and his family, cabinet members, Repugnants, are behind bars, FOR LIFE! I HAVE A DREAM...
I would love to see Rove vs Wade overturned and the wrong that was done back in 1973 made Right today. Frankly though I think it will take another Supreme Court Justice nominated by President Trump to make that happen. The wicked Darth Bader Ginsberg is barely hanging on hopefully soon that Christ hating and Constitution hating Talmudic witch will be gone so President Trump can appoint a good one!
I want to say I live in a world where abortion doesn’t have to happen, but unfortunately there are a lot of women who get pregnant and it is truly out of their control. Not only can they not afford to have a child, that child will be born into a world sought with greed and limited resources that might not even last their lifetimes. And that choice is ultimately the mother’s (and father’s) to make.
Roe v Wade is settled law. Do away with the State attempts to undermine the law. This is a MEDICAL DECISION BETWEEN A WOMAN AND HER DOCTOR! If you are opposed, don’t have one. That’s called FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
Despite the Republicans’ loss of the House, anti-abortion forces gained one of their most sought-after victories in decades with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh past need to be look in to about lying before the house and senate and if found to be guilty removed from the Supreme Court! Also the men that are posting their view need to grow a Uterus or support woman choice. Men have no parts of their body in the crosshair!
I would love roe vs wade be overturned
Deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is ultimately a private decision between a woman and her doctor. Reproductive coercion is a common issue for many women, so I don’t think the partner should automatically get a say—at the very least, they do not get the final say, in my eyes. The unfortunate reality is that women bear the brunt of child rearing, and access to effective birth control is not always equal or consistent, particularly for low-income women and the uninsured. And even when using the most effective birth control, there is still a chance of pregnancy occurring—we should not punish women for how our bodies function. We cannot completely control whether or not we get pregnant, we can only diminish the chances. Furthermore, childbirth is actually more dangerous to health than legal, regulated abortion, and—especially in a country with some of the highest mortality rates in the developed world—I believe it’s not the government’s place to decide for women that they will become mothers against their will. There are tangible health, economic, educational, and social implications with having children; it’s a reproductive health issue, not a moral one. I support fellow women for whatever decision they make.
I believe that women in consultation with their doctor should decide what course of action would be best for her and her unborn child. Government should have no place in this decision. Government should, although, make sure that whatever medical intervention is chosen is done in the safest and most healthful way. Also, birth control methods should be promoted by government to ensure that unwanted pregnancies are reduced.
Interference in a woman’s healthcare issues is NOT the business of politicians or the religious groups that support them! Those concerns are for a woman and her medical supporters. Hence, the current government efforts to interfere should be stopped in 2019!
When large groups of people disagree passionately on a serious subject we have to allow them to coexist. That is the federalist design of our government and the the founding strength of our nation. The court should have never intervened. The federal government lacks the authority to decide the issue short of a constitutional amendment.
We all will face God how will you answer the death ( by abortion) of a babies based on gods law not mans. Gods is simple .Though Shall Not Kill . For women who want to lower their self esteem by frequently giving their bodies to men. Take measures to avoid pregnancy so you avoid the destruction of an unborn baby. Doctors make peace with God. Those politicians who support current laws on abortion. Please remember to prepare your response to Gods question on the sanctity of life. Rape and Incest God will understand.
Roe vs Wade needs to be upheld. Those who oppose a woman’s right to choose should work to insure adequate income/education/employment opportunities for those who are impoverished. Most single mom’s and women who might seek pregnancy termination options come from this economic class. More opportunities will reduce the demand.
Our gov't/lawmakers have no business deciding what a woman does with her body.