We're Not Stupid: The Strategy (and Truth) Behind the War on Women 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.
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.
- 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).
- As the 2013 legislative sessions came to a close, NRLC proudly took credit for helping to enact in 10 states legislation based on their model 20-week ban: (in order of enactment) Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas.
- In June of 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal version of NRLC's model legislation (H.R.1797) by a vote of 228 to 196.
Their End Goal: Stop All Abortions for All Women in All Circumstances
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," AL.com, August 7, 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.