New York Times editorial board takes a bold stand for reproductive rights

"The ability of women to control their reproductive lives is essential for their health, careers and equality"

Published January 20, 2015 3:15PM (EST)

                       (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
(Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

Congress is set to vote on its first big piece of anti-choice legislation this week -- the misleadingly named Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban virtually all abortions after 20 weeks gestation. GOP leaders have thrown their support behind the bill, one of several anti-choice measures that has been brought back to life in an effort to curtail reproductive rights as much as possible. Pro-choice activists are staging grassroots efforts to push back against the legislation, but they aren't alone: The New York Times has also come out against Republicans' war on women.

On Tuesday, the Times editorial board published a blunt op-ed criticizing Republican-led efforts to limit abortion access across the country, on the local, state and federal levels. The editorial, which comes as a welcome assertion of the need for reproductive healthcare access, pulls no punches:

The start of 2015 finds no letup in the attacks on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own childbearing decisions. Republican lawmakers and organizations devoted to dismantling reproductive freedom have succeeded in shrinking the already inadequate number of abortion providers, making it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for women — especially young and poor women — to obtain safe and legal abortion services in large swaths Texas and other parts of the country.

The dismal situation, created by the wave of new state abortion restrictions in Republican-led states over the past four years, would be even worse if not for the willingness of some judges to block unconstitutional laws. Defenders of abortion rights have had their hands full trying to block or at least minimize new restrictive laws, totaling 231, according to the Guttmacher Institute, exceeding the total for the entire previous decade.

The Times goes on to detail the problems with the 20-week abortion ban (of which there are many), which include zero exceptions to protect the health of pregnant women along with criminal penalties for healthcare providers for offering necessary care. It sums up the implications pretty nicely: "Republicans scoff at accusations that they are waging a war against women," the board writes. "But this should not obscure a basic fact: The ability of women to control their reproductive lives is essential for their health, careers and equality."

Read the op-ed at the New York Times.

By Jenny Kutner

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