We're Not Stupid: The Strategy (and Truth) Behind the War on Women 2013

Document Date: August 29, 2013

Based on investigative reporting, it seems the financial ties between conservative funders Charles and David Koch and anti-choice organizations may run deep. This week, national press has reported that Freedom Partners, a nonprofit with strong Koch ties, released a draft IRS report detailing millions of dollars in grants awarded to groups that fund anti-choice organizations such as Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List. The official document is scheduled to be released soon, so check back here for updates.

The Anti-Choice Movement’s Hidden Agenda

In the 2013 legislative session, extremist politicians in statehouses across the country introduced more than 300 measures that could cut off access to reproductive health care. Seventeen states passed one or more of these draconian measures, potentially affecting the more than 22 million women of childbearing age who live in these states. This legislative onslaught is just the latest in a broad and coordinated national campaign to outlaw clinics that provide abortion care and limit access to other critical reproductive health services, including birth control.

While politicians have been chipping away at a woman’s ability to access abortion care for years, in this latest round, they’ve pushed through some of the most severe measures that could make it virtually impossible for women to obtain safe, legal care no matter what their circumstances. Extremist politicians may say they want to protect women’s health; in reality, the restrictions put up medically unnecessary roadblocks aimed at shutting down women’s health centers, outlawing abortions, and interfering in a woman’s private decision-making about her health and family.

While the end goal of the anti-choice campaign remains overturning Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal, extremists have figured out that, short of accomplishing this goal, they can effectively take away access one law, one clinic, one state at a time. They may think we are too stupid to see what they are up to, but we aren’t stupid, we’re paying attention, and we’re ready to fight back.

A complete list of Major Restrictions on Abortion Access Passed in 2013

An interactive map of Major Restrictions on Abortion Access Passed in 2013

What follows is a set of statements made by a number of anti-choice groups and their leaders that reveal the movement’s true intentions and strategies.

The Stealth Approach: One Bill, One State at a Time

While banning all abortions is not (yet) politically viable–efforts to do so in recent years have failed in legislatures, in the courts, or at the ballot box— the opposition has a strategy: Pass laws that make it harder and harder for women’s health clinics to stay open and make it more difficult for women to obtain the care they need no matter what their circumstances. If they succeed, they could end legal abortion without having to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Mississippi provides an excellent example of the cumulative effectiveness of the step-by-step enactment of protective laws such as informed consent, parental involvement, clinic regulations, and others—an ‘accumulated victories’ strategy—to combat the evil of abortion. .. . As a result,. . . six out of seven abortion clinics have closed—leaving only one embattled abortion clinic in the entire state. However, Mississippi’s 2012 enactment of a requirement that all abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital. has placed that remaining clinic in imminent jeopardy.” (Americans United for Life, Defending Life, 2013.)
“We provide state lawmakers, state attorneys general, public policy groups, lobbyists, the media, and others with proven legal strategies and tools that will, step-by-step and state-by-state, lead to a more pro-life America and help set the stage of the state-by-state battle that will follow Roe’s ultimate reversal”). (Americans United for Life, Abortion.)
“In the last two years alone, [Americans United for Life] has helped enact nearly 50 new pro-life laws—that’s about one-third of all pro-life laws enacted in 2011 and 2012. And we have a tremendous tidal wave of life-affirming legislation in the pipeline for 2013. Notably, over the past two years, we have responded to 2,500 requests for our model legislation and our legal team has been at work in 39 states. We are confident that we have forward momentum carrying us into the 2013 state legislative sessions.” (Americans United for Life, press release, February 7, 2013.)

  • During the 2013 legislative session, Americans United for Life (AUL) was indeed quite active. In at least 27 states, they teamed up with extremist politicians to push–in whole or in part—their anti-abortion legislation. Their model legislative language was included when:
    • North Dakota banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy – the point when a woman may find out that something has gone seriously wrong with her pregnancy. Bans like this take away a woman’s ability to make important life decisions about her health and pregnancy. (ND SB 2368).
    • Mississippi enacted legislation that aims to restrict access to medication abortion; it is close to a perfect replica of model legislation published by AUL (MS SB 2795).
    • Kansas passed a sweeping anti-abortion law that includes many provisions intended to limit access to care. Part of the law draws directly from AUL model legislation (KS HB 2253).
    • Arkansas enacted a measure designed to curtail a teenager’s ability to obtain safe and legal abortion care no matter her circumstances. This law is almost an exact copy of model legislation from AUL. (AR HB 1447).
    • Montana expanded its existing restrictions on teens’ access to abortion care, making it even harder for teens to get the care they need. Language in this measure copies that of the model AUL legislation (MT HB 391).

In recent years, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has focused its efforts on passing bans on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point in pregnancy when a woman may find out that something has gone seriously wrong with her pregnancy. These bans take away a woman’s ability to make important life decision about her health and pregnancy.

“The plan you hold in your hands is not a set of vague promises. It is a roadmap for action built on two decades of intentional efforts, each calculated to build success step-by-step. We sprint when we need to and we are marathoners because we must be. . . we willingly shift tactics and resources as opportunities multiply. . . we played a central role in the passage of what even The New York Times terms a record number of pro-life laws.” (Susan B. Anthony List Business Plan, Re-Claiming the Human Center of the Abortion Debate, 2013.)
“The incremental restrictions are working, but this Supreme Court is not going to overturn Roe. Why would we ask them to review it?” (Mike Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life, 2013.)

Their End Goal: Stop All Abortions for All Women in All Circumstances
“To be clear, we should certainly enact and defend any regulation that prevents even a single abortion, but we shouldn’t legitimize the practice, at any stage, by saying we’re focused on ensuring abortion is a well-regulated industry.
What if we win this case and the law is allowed to take effect, but a loophole is carved? The new status quo would be just as unacceptable. Our goal should remain . . . to make all abortion illegal and inaccessible in Alabama. And our strategy and arguments should always support that long-term goal, whatever short-term efforts are won or lost.” (J. Pepper Bryars, former press secretary and speechwriter for Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, “Of course we want to close all abortion clinics,”, August 7, 2013.)
“We must never forget that ending all abortions is the ultimate goal.” (Robert Muise, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center, Rethinking Pro-Life Strategy—The Human Life Amendment.)
“Let’s be clear, the whole pro-life movement shares a belief in the sanctity of life from womb to tomb. I’d like to eliminate abortion starting at conception, not just heartbeat. The difference within the movement is about strategy, not philosophy.” (Mike Gonidakis, head of Ohio Right to Life, an affiliate of National Right to Life, 2013.)
“My goal of course is to shut it [the last clinic] down.” (Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, “Mississippi Governor: ‘My Goal Of Course Is To Shut Down’ The State’s Last Abortion Clinic,” Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress, January 11, 2013.)

We are not standing idly by. In 2013, the ACLU and its affiliates fought bills in legislatures across the country that would have severely restricted access to abortion care and interfered with the doctor-patient relationship. And where we haven’t been able to stop politicians from overreaching, we’ve taken the fight to the courts.

Find out more about what you can do to help stop the attack on reproductive health care.

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