When thinking about what I’ve been following in the news for government class, and my take on current events related to GPC, my mind goes to the SCOTUS Abortion case from March. One of the women I work with at Planned Parenthood was going on about the case and how angry it made her; so the next day I walked into GPC with loads of questions. In class we went over the Roe v. Wade Wikipedia article and discussed that it’s actually a law regarding privacy, which included a woman’s decision whether or not to get an abortion. I had no idea that Roe v. Wade was actually about privacy, and it really shaped the way I think about abortion laws. Basically, it’s none of the government’s business what a woman decides to do with her body. The supreme court’s acknowledging that it’s a privacy right to get an abortion without ‘undue burden’ made me wonder how it was constitutional that lawmakers in multiple states across the country are allowed to put up so many roadblocks for women trying to access abortion services. The ideas of ‘undue burdens’ applies directly to the current SCOTUS abortion case.
In early March, the Supreme Court took on its biggest abortion case since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case from 1992 that challenged Pennsylvania’s statutory laws regarding abortion. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt challenges restrictive TRAP laws in Texas. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws, are a series of medically unnecessary regulations placed on abortion providers that make access to abortions extremely difficult. This particular law, Texas’s 2013 HB 2 law, mandates that all abortion providing clinics are Ambulatory Surgical Centers, and all abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital at least 30 miles away. At first glance, it seems like these they would actually be beneficial to women who are seeking abortions.. Nope. The law has shut down more than half of the state’s previous 41 clinics. If the abortion providers challenging the bill don’t succeed and the Court finds the law constitutional, all but nine or ten clinics will close; making abortion access exponentially harder.
As you can see in this NY Times video, tons of people protested outside of the Supreme Court in Washington the day of oral arguments. Just a few days after the Court heard arguments for the Texas case, they temporarily blocked a Louisiana abortion law that would have left the state with only one abortion clinic. At the protests for the Texas law, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that
“We look to the Justices to put an end to these sham measures threatening women’s rights, health and lives across the U.S.”
So, back to the reflecting part of this reflection. Mike said that nothing gets Americans riled up like abortion does. Turns out, Mike is right. I have a pretty small, very liberal media bubble. After we discussed this case in class, I was prompted to try to keep up with it (though not much has been said since early March). I have been paying more attention to abortion related news in “regular” media, going out to “regular” Americans; and I was really surprised at how much of it was in “regular” media. There’s always plenty to say on Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page in my newsfeed, but there’s also plenty to say in media platforms like Huffington Post, CNN, and the NY Times. “Regular” Americans get to wake up practically every day to new abortion notifications. Ohio just got rid of all it’s abortion clinics, Louisiana tried to, Texas had a law in June of last year trying to get rid of the clinics, Alabama is closing all of its clinics, etc. etc. Nothing gets Americans riled up like abortion. Joyous, isn’t it? Abortions have been legal and safe for decades now, and we are still making a fuss. So, when I think about the question “What have you learned from the course about national politics?”, I start to think about how much politicians think a woman’s body is their business. Of course I’ve always had a good idea of this, but since all this abortion talk has come up it has never been so clear to me. There are wealthy, white men in power who truly think they can control what a woman does with her body and how she ensures her own well being; whether that’s starting a family, or getting an abortion. So if this is true, then no, government is not just (at least in this regard). I’m not really sure it can be with our political system; but until a woman’s body is truly her body, I’m not convinced.
I promise I’m not as cynical as those last few sentences made me seem. I think that, as educated young people of privilege, it’s our job to make government just. What I’ve really enjoyed about this class is that it’s opened my eyes to more aspects of government and politics that I otherwise wasn’t aware or well-informed of. I think classes like this are important, so that young people can be empowered, or at least more likely, to change what they see as unjust in our political system.
Fessenden, Ford. “How the Supreme Court Case Could Change Women’s Access to Abortion.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 May 2016.
Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Blocks Louisiana Abortion Law.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 May 2016.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 05 May 2016.
“How Will SCOTUS’ Swing Judge Rule on Texas Abortion Case?” The Texas Observer. N.p., 2016. Web. 05 May 2016.
“Everything You Need to Know About Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.” Odyssey. N.p., 2016. Web. 05 May 2016.
ProChoiceAmerica. “What Are TRAP Laws?” YouTube. YouTube, 2016. Web. 05 May 2016.