By Irin Carmon
“This was the year politicians and women’s groups started using ‘war on women’ to refer to the Republican obsession with regulating uteruses. So if it’s a war, who’s winning?
The answer, frustratingly, is no one. This year saw the cementing of a consensus that neither side particularly likes: Abortion is still legal, but Republicans are doing an ever-better and more innovative job of making it as odious, expensive and shaming as possible to obtain. Although every side needs a sense of urgency to rally the troops, the good-ish news is that the federal court system helped hold back the tide on the worst laws. And for better or worse, anti-choicers got more honest than they’ve ever been about their hostility to birth control, which is used and supported by the vast majority of Americans. Broadly speaking, the first half of the year saw Republicans in statehouses passing ever more outrageous laws — 80 in all this year, more than double the previous record — followed by a series of judges rolling their eyes and sending them home mostly empty-handed, for now at least. What the Supreme Court has permitted is not, in fact, what’s laid down in Roe. Instead, women are living under the ‘undue burden’ standard of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which turns 20 next year. To put it bluntly, you’re allowed to burden a woman seeking an abortion, but only so much. Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, says of Casey, ‘I think 20 years have shown that is unworkable. What does it mean that you have a fundamental right to access abortion services but the government can make it really hard to do so?'”