Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WoW Is DOA in ABQ?

This past January, we commemorated the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and remembered how far we've come since then. Of course, we also noticed the challenges that remain as women’s reproductive rights face more attacks.

In recent weeks, a new line of attack emerged. What made this (even more) surprising is that it emerged in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Anti-choice activists from across the nation descended upon The Duke City to push a citywide referendum on late-term abortion. This was part of their new "all politics is local" strategy... But this first test didn't go so well for them.

Albuquerque voters on Tuesday defeated a measure to ban abortion at 20 weeks, issuing a major blow to antiabortion activists who had hoped to use the city to test a new strategy to restrict the procedure at the municipal level.

As Salon has previously reported, the effort to get the measure on the ballot was led by Bud and Tara Shaver, two self-described Christian missionaries and extreme antiabortion activists who moved from Kansas to New Mexico with the sole intent of shuttering the Southwestern Women’s Options clinic, one of two late-term abortion providers in the area. [...]

“The voters of Albuquerque showed that they care about women’s health and respect the private medical decisions they make,” Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Nancy Stanwood, MD, MPH, said in a statement.

“They saw through this deceptive initiative and defeated a measure that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, with only the narrowest of exceptions, legislation that would have stripped women of the ability to make the best decision for themselves and their families. … With the defeat of this ballot measure, the voters of Albuquerque affirm that women deserve the best care and deserve privacy and respect.”

OK, so Albuquerque voters rejected a late-term abortion ban yesterday. Why are we talking about it here and now? Perhaps because this has major national implications?

It’s not just about one city though. Albuquerque is home to the only late-term abortion clinics in the state, including Southwestern Women’s Options, one of just a handful of clinics left in the whole country that do very late abortions. (The clinic has become the target of some scary anti-choice harassment and the providers there are featured in the new documentary After Tiller, which you should definitely see.) So a ban there would affect all the folks who travel to the city for abortion care from rural areas elsewhere in the state–and across the US. Micaela Cadena, who is part of the Respect ABQ Women campaign fighting the measure,explained, ”Albuquerque voters are voting for the whole state of New Mexico and also for the rest of the country.” No wonder anti-choice groups have been spending big bucks to get this ban passed."

In recent years, anti-choice G-O-TEA Culture Warriors have been waging the War on Women in Congress and in state legislatures across the nation. And they've succeeded in passing epic hurdles to reproductive health care in a number of states while directing the US House to spend seemingly endless amounts of time on proposed abortion and contraception restrictions. It's forced pro-choice activists to play defense across the nation.

But last night, Albuquerque voters delivered a direct rebuke of this attempt to surreptitiously expand the War on Women into New Mexico. So not only do public opinion pills show a pro-choice majority, but we're finally seeing real election results demonstrating this as well.

So why is Congress still wasting time on attempts to limit abortion and contraception access? Why are the likes of Senator Dean Heller (R-What?) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Why?) ignoring what's happening in their own backyard? Why is the War on Women continuing despite mounting opposition?

What happened in Albuquerque may very well be a turning point... But it will likely take more public rebukes like this one to end the War on Women once and for all.

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