August 19, 2016
"Anti-choicers get even weirder: After losing in the Supreme Court, abortion foes turn to desperate distortion," Amanda Marcotte, Salon: Following a recent Supreme Court ruling that debunked the strategy of restricting abortion access under the guise of protecting women's health, abortion-rights opponents are focusing on two other strategies: "[F]irst, trying to trick people into thinking embryos are babies and then trying to trick people into thinking abortion is too medically dangerous to be allowed," Marcotte writes. She notes that while both these strategies "have failed ... before," even the "worst ideas can do some damage to abortion access ... before they finally sputter out politically." For example, she points to abortion-rights opponents in Texas who are trying to advance fetal burial or cremation regulations that would apply to pregnancies that end in abortion and miscarriage. Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents still are "trying to scare people into thinking abortion is dangerous" by calling for additional data collection on abortion care, Marcotte writes, even though "[m]ore data will just prove even more resoundingly that abortion is safe." According to Marcotte, the tactic is "[s]o puzzling ... that there's reason to worry that these efforts are not about tracking the safety data at all, but about finding some back-door method for right-wingers to access women's private medical data for nefarious purposes." Marcotte concludes that "this kind of behavior is deeply worrisome," but it also demonstrates "the depths of desperation of the anti-choice movement" (Marcotte, Salon, 8/17).
"After Texas slashed its family planning budget, maternal deaths almost doubled," Nora Caplan-Bricker, Slate 's "XX Factor": A new study has found "[p]regnancy-related deaths nearly doubled in Texas between 2010 and 2012," an increase that according to the study authors, "is difficult to explain 'in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval,'" Caplan-Bricker writes. According to Caplan-Bricker, the "alarming development coincided with the state's decision to slash its family planning budget by two-thirds in 2011 -- an attempt to shut down abortion providers that ultimately forced 82 clinics ... to close," a move that limited "access not only to prenatal care, but also to ... birth control." Overall, according to the study, the state's maternal death rate increased from 18.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 33 in 2011 and 35.8 in 2014, Caplan-Bricker writes, adding that while "Texas is an outlier, maternal mortality is a growing problem for the U.S. in general." She points to other findings in the study that showed "the rate of deaths per 100,000 live births for 48 states and the District of Columbia -- excluding Texas and California, which the researchers considered separately -- 'increased by 26.6 percent, from 18.8 in 2000 to 23.8 in 2014.'" The United States "is one of the only countries in the world where the problem of maternal mortality is getting worse, not better," Caplan-Bricker writes, noting that "the average maternal mortality rate in developed countries at 12 deaths per 100,000 live births." Noting that a Texas task force created to study pregnancy-related deaths is "due to make its first set of recommendations in September," Caplan-Bricker concludes, "common sense suggests that replenishing the millions of dollars in funding the state has drained from women's health clinics might be a good start" (Caplan-Bricker, "XX Factor," Slate, 8/18).