Attacks on Women’s Health: AAUW Members Fight Back
Since 2011, Congress and state legislatures have boomed with bills to limit women’s reproductive rights. AAUW members have stood with women in North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas to fight against these restrictive and unjust bills — and members are geared up for the ongoing battles.
AAUW members in North Carolina rallied against an addition to a “Sharia law” bill that would close all but one state abortion clinic in North Carolina. The bill passed the state Senate July 3, but Gov. Pat McCrory promised to veto the bill. The same legislators then slyly installed more anti-choice language into the misnamed Motorcycle Safety Act.
“This ‘motorcycle vagina’ bill is a supposed health and safety bill, but it is so vague that, once passed, the Department of Health and Human Services will be able to do with women’s reproductive rights what they will,” said AAUW of North Carolina President Mary Peterson.
To combat this legislation, Peterson and her fellow AAUW of North Carolina members gathered 500 signatures and marched to McCrory’s office to insist he veto the bill. McCrory had said during a 2012 gubernatorial debate that he would not agree to sign any further restrictions on abortions. The AAUW members weren’t able to meet with the governor but did deliver the petition. Unfortunately, the governor did not keep his promise — he signed the bill into law on Monday.
Ohio women have also had an uphill battle. AAUW of Ohio fought back as legislators there snuck anti-choice regulations into a budget bill, signed by Gov. John Kasich just days before the July Fourthholiday. AAUW of Ohio Public Policy Chair Jackie Evangelista calls for more young women to get involved in the reproductive rights fight, saying, “the only way to change any of this [anti-abortion legislation] is to change the legislature.”
While Ohio’s anti-choice legislation may have tried to slip under the radar, AAUW of Texas was in the spotlight as the now-famous state Sen. Wendy Davis stood for 13 hours to filibuster one of the most radical anti-choice bills in America. AAUW members in Texas were in the midst of the fight, sending e-mails urging members to contact their representatives and collecting more than 1,000 signatures from women’s health supporters protesting the restrictive House and Senate bills. Unfortunately, the bill passed in Gov. Rick Perry’s second special election and has the potential to close all but five abortion clinics in Texas. Though the fight against this particular anti-choice legislation gained media attention, multiple other Texas laws have restricted women’s health access.
“[T]he net effect is that there are thousands of Texas women who cannot access birth control or cancer screenings; the restrictive abortion law compounds the problem,” said AAUW of Texas Public Policy Chair Rosemarie Herrmann.
While strikes against women’s health are disheartening, these AAUW members’ unwavering determination shows that the fight is not over. All aspects of women’s reproductive health must be supported to ensure that women can care for themselves — this freedom benefits women but also their families and communities. The women in North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas are not alone in their battles. Women in Wisconsin and North Dakota have also recently seen legislation challenging their reproductive rights. We must model our efforts after the valiant AAUW women of North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas and not let these anti-reproductive-health bills go uncontested.
This post was written by AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations Intern Katie Cole.