Opponents of reproductive freedom have worked for decades to impose their version of religion and morality on all Americans. They oppose legal abortion because they say it offends biblical principles or the teachings of religious leaders. Thus, they say, no woman should be able to obtain an abortion.
Since they’ve been unable to overturn Roe v. Wade outright, foes of reproductive rights have employed a strategy of incrementalism. They’ve persuaded legislatures in some states to pass a series of laws (known as TRAP laws) designed to harass abortion clinics and weigh them down with burdensome regulations. The idea is to chip away at the right to a legal abortion to the point where it exists only on paper, not in practice.
A case challenging a law like this is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. It concerns a Louisiana statute that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Of course, many hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic Church, and so won’t grant such privileges to these doctors. The larger issue is why such a law is necessary. If a patient encountered problems during an abortion, she would be taken to a hospital for care whether the clinic doctor had privileges there or not.
The Louisiana law is designed to place onerous regulations on abortion clinics in the hope that they will be forced to close. These laws have nothing to do with women’s health. They further the agenda of certain conservative religious groups, namely, to ban abortion.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Americans United fought for the right of couples to make their own decisions about family planning. AU opposed laws that existed in some states that banned birth control or even information about it. Right-wing Republican promulgators and supporters of such anti-contraceptive laws in the 1948 presidential campaign even smeared advocates of birth control as “anti-baby!”
Those laws were put in place because powerful religious groups opposed birth control on theological grounds and didn’t want anyone to have it. The new crop of TRAP laws designed to hector abortion clinics is cut from the same cloth.
The Supreme Court should see through this ruse and strike down Louisiana’s misguided law, as it did a similar Texas law a few years ago.