We have seen a tremendous uptick in our membership and in donations to NARAL since the election. We believe people are ready to stand up and fight back.
Q: What can and should women of childbearing age do right now?
A: We’ve heard reports of women in huge numbers acting fast to get long-acting contraception, like IUDs, which by law must be covered by insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Every woman needs to do what’s best for her and her family. But the most important thing women can do is sign up to organize and mobilize people in support of our freedoms and hold elected officials accountable.
Q: How will the appointment of Tom Price to run Health and Human Services affect contraception availability and abortion services?
A: We expect to see him try to ban abortion and contraception—if not explicitly, then through policies that severely restrict this health care. Not only has Tom Price tried to outlaw abortion nationwide, including in cases of rape, incest and health of the woman, he has worked to put an outright ban on the most common forms of contraception. As chair of the Budget Committee, he was on the front lines of efforts to dismantle the lifesaving Affordable Care Act, as well as the dangerous attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. For the seven in 10 Americans who support legal access to abortion, this is an incredibly alarming pick.
Q: How many states, like Indiana, have bills in the hopper to require funerals for fetuses?
A: In 2016, anti-choice state legislators introduced bills requiring a woman to bury or cremate her fetus in three other states (Alabama, Idaho, and Nebraska). Two other states (Texas and Louisiana) approved regulations similar to the one approved in Indiana. These laws have no grounding in medical or health concern. They exist only to use the force of the government to cause pain and shame to women for making our own decisions about our reproduction.
Q: Are you aware of other cases like Ann Yocca’s in Tennessee, who is being charged for attempting a coat-hanger abortion?
A: When anti-choice lawmakers make abortion more difficult to get, they don’t drive the number of abortions down. They are just driving the number of consequences up for those trying to access abortion care.
Q: Are you concerned that there will be more women doing DIY abortions?
A: Searches on the internet for how to self-administer an abortion are high in areas where abortion access is severely restricted. And while home abortions can be incredibly safe if performed under the advisement of a competent health care provider, many women may attempt abortion in ways that aren’t safe. That’s one of the key reasons why it’s so important to ensure abortion remains legal, so women aren’t pushed into the back alleys once again. When abortion care is restricted, the number of abortions does not go down, and the number of deaths and injuries goes up.
Q: Can you comment on Vice President (Mike) Pence’s history with women’s reproductive rights in Indiana?
A: Governor Pence has spent his entire career working to make abortion illegal, imprison doctors who provide abortion services for women, and ban some of the most common forms of contraception. He has said that he wants to see Roe v. Wade thrown to the ash heap of history. Under his leadership, the state of Indiana tried to sentence a woman to 20 years in prison for an abortion.
Mike Pence’s fervor to close Planned Parenthood clinics and rob Indiana citizens of basic health services has resulted in a health crisis: Indiana has seen an uptick in HIV infection and a decrease in prenatal services available for rural and impoverished pregnant women. He also has a record of putting his extreme, anti-choice ideology ahead of the best interest of everyone in our nation: He led the charge to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding while in Congress.
Q: Can women expect lower court judges to protect their rights?
A: Thanks to the anti-choice GOP’s insistence on obstructing in Washington D.C., right now there are nearly 100 federal judicial vacancies, with even more to come. Trump can stack the courts and change the face of the judicial branch for a generation to come. While the Supreme Court garners the most public attention, the fate of women’s access to abortion is much more commonly decided at the lower-court level.
Q: Some anti-abortion groups sent out joyful emails immediately after the Trump election, predicting that abortion will be illegal across the country. Is this possible?
A: Even if anti-choice lawmakers don’t succeed in making abortion illegal on a nationwide scale, states can enact legislation that restricts abortion so severely that it becomes inaccessible. That’s essentially already the case in some states, and there are already laws on the books in multiple states that would make abortion illegal—and women who choose it would be criminals—if Roe v. Wade is overturned. But let’s be clear: what these groups are celebrating is a restriction on a woman’s autonomy, her dignity and her ability to be a full partner in society. Without access to reproductive health care, women are held back from living the lives we dream of and realizing our destinies.
Q: What states are at the tipping point in terms of losing abortion services? Which states are at a tipping point in terms of contraceptive availability?
A: Abortion clinics have been closing at an alarming rate, leaving some states (Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming) with only one clinic. Even in states with more than one reproductive health care clinic, many barriers still exist. A woman may not have the funds necessary to travel several hours to the nearest clinic, she may not be able to get time off of work or childcare, or she may live in a state that forces her to wait up to three days between appointments and make two separate trips. If Roe is overturned, many American women will see abortion access effectively eliminated.
Q: How can people help those who live in states where women are forced to bear children?
A: Sign up. Organize. Mobilize. The non-violent resistance we need to stop these attacks can only happen if people get to work, speak out, or take action against the most severe restrictions on abortion access.
Q: Which bills in Congress are you most concerned about?
A: The range of anti-choice legislation being discussed—including repealing the contraception coverage afforded by the Affordable Care Act, medically unnecessary restrictions on clinics providing abortion care, and a nationwide 20-week abortion ban—is alarming for many different reasons.
When you restrict contraceptive access by making it more expensive and more difficult to get, women can’t plan their lives or their families the way they want to. When you enact legislation imposing medically unnecessary restrictions that cause clinics to shut down across the nation, you’re stripping women of their ability to take control of our futures or even care for the families we already have. When you ban abortion at 20 weeks, you tell women and families facing the most difficult situations that they aren’t to be trusted with their own medical decisions and put their lives in danger.
Q: Why does NARAL call H Res 933, the investigation into Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue a “witch hunt”? Have doctors been charged and investigated already, or are under investigation now and if so, where?
A: The House Select Investigative Panel has used taxpayer money to advance a partisan attack on students, researchers, and health-care providers across the nation. For example, earlier this year the committee issued subpoenas targeting people working in universities, labs and other research institutions. We and our members stand with the pro-choice Democrats serving on the panel as they fight against this partisan abuse of taxpayer funds and the public’s trust.