The past year gave us landmark victories, unprecedented hostility from the opposition, and historic legislation that could end the madness.
Despite the absence of bumbling politicians using their stump speeches to prove just how anti-choice they were—and instead revealing exactly how little they know about women’s health care—2013 still managed to deliver shocking developments, including the most blatantly unconstitutional laws ever passed.
But it also brought us hope, in the form of a piece of legislation that will one day protect the health and safety of women nationwide, no matter where they live.
North Carolina legislature steps backwards to pass a discriminatory law that threatens essential health care.
Extremist politicians in North Carolina are clearly desperate to prevent abortion providers from practicing medicine. This summer, they tried to sneak through potentially devastating abortion restrictions by attaching them to not one but two completely unrelated bills—a bill that banned Sharia law and another about motorcycle safety. When the second bill ultimately passed, outraged voters used #motorcylevagina across social media to express their disdain of political trickery in discriminating against women. Right now, the state’s health department is reviewing and writing regulations that could close clinics across the state and threaten the health and safety of North Carolina’s women.
North Dakota bans abortion before many women even know they’re pregnant.
We expected extremist politicians to continue their assault on reproductive rights in 2013. What we didn’t know was just how far they would push the envelope in threatening women’s health and safety. North Dakota takes the prize for the most dangerous, most blatantly unconstitutional law, with the passage of a ban on abortion at the first sign of fetal cardiac activity—as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The Center stopped this law—and a 12-week ban in Arkansas—from taking effect, and we’ll be in court in 2014 to strike it down permanently.
Emergency contraception becomes available to all women—without barriers or governmental interference.
In 2001, we launched the first volley in a battle to make sure that all women could access emergency contraception without government interference. By then, scientific experts had reached the conclusion that EC, also known as the “morning after” pill, was an extremely safe medication and that it was most effective taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. An epic battle ensued. Two White House administrations let politics trump science, depriving countless women of access to EC. But one federal judge had little tolerance for what he called an “administrative filibuster,” and he ultimately ordered the Food and Drug Administration to bring EC out from behind the pharmacy counter. The Center’s victory was hard fought, and it will benefit women across the nation for generations to come.
Wendy Davis takes a heroic stand, but Texas legislators pass an awful law anyway, resulting in the closure of one-third of the state’s abortion clinics.
Okay, technically the Lone Star state offered many of the year biggest moments, some inspiration and others soul crushing. In the process, Texas became the most watched state on the U.S. reproductive rights landscape. Wendy Davis gave us the highpoint: behind the support of many thousands of outraged Texans, she mounted a 12-hour web-televised filibuster, that drew the attention of America, including President Obama. Despite voters’ clear disapproval, the Texas legislature passed a sweeping bill anyway. The Center stopped the bill, but only temporarily. On October 31, the law became effective, and a third of the state’s abortion clinics had to stop providing essential health care. To Be Continued: the Center returns to court on January 6 to fight for the rights of 13 million Texas women and their families.
Congress introduces the Women’s Health Protection Act.
For years, extremist politicians have pushed their reckless legislation under the false claim that they’re protecting women’s health. But the way to make sure women have the highest measure of health is to ensure they have access to reproductive health care. And you don’t do that by shutting down abortion clinics. The Women’s Health Protection Act would prohibit politicians from passing laws that interfere with medical decisions that are rightfully made by a woman in consultation with the medical professionals she trusts. Finally, we’re on the verge of having a law that truly puts women’s health and safety first.