Women's Health Care Under Attack: Sneak Preview of 2015

Elections are behind us, and many new state legislative sessions don't begin until January -- yet lawmakers are already giving us a preview of the bills they intend to pass into law first chance they get.
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Consider what's happening in Ohio an alarming sneak peek of what we'll see next year. Elections are behind us, and many new state legislative sessions don't begin until January -- yet lawmakers are already giving us a preview of the bills they intend to pass into law first chance they get.

Here at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, though, we're stronger than ever and ready for this fight. We gained a million new supporters over the course of the election. Our number one asset is the American public who stands with us, and the rest of our 8 million supporters who are ready to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

Just last week in Ohio, Planned Parenthood supporters rallied to oppose one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the nation as it could come up for a vote in the state House in the coming days. The bill would ban abortion as early as six weeks in a woman's pregnancy -- when many women don't even know they're pregnant. Politicians in South Carolina have now introduced a similar measure.

In Michigan, politicians are considering a dangerous law that could allow a host of health care providers to deny health care. Pharmacists could refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, hospitals could refuse to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors, and physicians could refuse to provide health care to patients whose health is at risk.

In Texas, meanwhile, there are rumors that a measure could be considered that could exclude Planned Parenthood patients from funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings. This is on top of devastating funding cuts for birth control and other care, onerous restrictions on abortion -- and the closure of dozens upon dozens of health centers across the state. It seemed as though the situation couldn't possibly get worse -- yet it could.

Remember, these are just the previews. Between 2011 and 2014, state legislatures passed 231 restrictions on safe, legal abortions -- more restrictions than had passed in the entire previous decade. In 2015, we anticipate that politicians will introduce even more restrictions, despite the fact that the majority of Americans believe that government has no place in a woman's personal medical decisions.

When voters are directly given the opportunity to express their views, time and again they vote to protect a woman's access to birth control and safe, legal abortion. One year ago, the residents of Albuquerque voted down the first-ever municipal abortion ban by 10 points. Last month, voters firmly rejected "personhood" amendments in North Dakota and Colorado -- the same thing Mississippi voters did in 2011 by a margin of 16 points. These measures would have protected the rights of fertilized eggs -- leading to a ban on abortion and potentially restricting access to common forms of birth control. North Dakota voters were so opposed to the measure that they additionally defeated its key sponsor in the state legislature.

The good news about next year is that we know there will be votes taken in state legislatures across the country that will make it crystal clear to voters where their elected officials stand on access to birth control, safe and legal abortion, and other issues important to women. We'll be there every time, exposing the politicians who say one thing and do another, and agitating for change.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is fighting these bills in the statehouses, and we continue our fight in the courts when these atrocious bills become law, because we believe that every woman, no matter who she is or where she lives, should be able to make her own personal health care decisions without interference from politicians.

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