This Week in Reproductive Rights: March for Life, spikes in IUD insertions and more
On Friday, anti-abortion protesters rounded out a tumultuous week in reproductive rights news with the March for Life in Washington, D.C., The demonstration happens annually, but this year, demonstrators are feeling a special kind of excitement for their cause.
"We've seen one executive order after the other really not protecting the inherent dignity of the human person from conception to natural death," March for Life president Jeanne Mancini told USA Today. "It's a breath of relief, a breath [of] fresh air, for us to now have people who are wanting to forward pro-life policies."
"Life is winning through the quiet counsels between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables and over coffee at college campuses," he said.
President Donald Trump voiced his backing for the demonstration on Twitter earlier Friday morning.
"The #MarchForLife is so important," he wrote. "To all of you marching — you have my full support."
Here's what you might have missed this week:
• Trump signed an executive order barring federal funds from going toward non-governmental organizations that provide abortions. Known as the global gag rule or the Mexico City policy, the law could force many abortion providers to close their doors.
• The Netherlands has a sneaky plan to fight Trump's global gag rule, creating an international fund to finance contraceptives, abortion access and overall reproductive health in the developing world, where women will feel the impact of Trump's executive order most.
• On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R.7, a bill that would make the Hyde Amendment a permanent part of U.S. law. The amendment was a budget rider that's kept federal spending from funding abortions since 1976, except in the case of rape, incest or threat to the mother's health. Because low-income women make up the vast majority of abortion patients, critics argue the measure sends a clear message: Poor women don't matter.
• Tuesday, Congressional Republicans introduced a federal "heartbeat bill" that would ban abortion nationwide, as early as six weeks. A clear violation of Roe v. Wade, the bill — based on the one that passed the Ohio state legislature in December — probably won't make it very far, but proponents are hoping it could land in front of the Supreme Court, challenging the legality of abortion in the U.S.
• Legislators in 18 states made a rare, coordinated stand for reproductive rights, introducing bills that specifically name abortion as an insurable health care service and prohibit crisis pregnancy centers from false advertising, among other unusual but welcome measures. Many of the bills came out of states — like Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Kentucky — that are most high profile in their hostility toward abortion.
• Live Action, the anti-abortion group behind the now-debunked Planned Parenthood sting videos, released more material Monday. Its latest video attempts to discredit the healthcare provider for failing to provide prenatal care at all of its centers, but just as there are Planned Parenthood clinics that don't provide abortions, there are centers that don't offer prenatal care. Planned Parenthood has never said otherwise.
• An abortion clinic in Charleston, West Virginia, permanently shuttered on Tuesday, leaving it with just one remaining abortion provider in the entire state. West Virginia joins five other states — Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming — that have just one such facility. Kentucky may soon follow suit.
• Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. The executive director of Arkansas' American Civil Liberties Union Rita Sklar said the law is blatantly unconstitutional and will cost the state thousands in court appeals.
• This week, Vox reported a 19% surge in IUD prescriptions and insertions between October and December 2016. It's not the 900% increase in demand Planned Parenthood allegedly say in the days following the presidential election, but it's apparently reflective of a national pattern where women are scrambling to secure contraception under a president bent on legislating women's bodies.
• Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt filed the "Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act," legislation that would institute an all-out ban on abortion and jail anyone who provides or receives one. Tinderholt said the bill would teach women responsibility.