a bird and a bottle

New Strategies for Women’s Health

Since it became all too clear last week that the Supreme Court is unconcerned with actually protecting women’s health, advocates and activists have been scratching their (our) heads. It’s safe at this point to assume that this supreme court is going to be hostile to reproductive justice. So what does a ‘movement’ that has long relied on the Supreme Court to champion it (or at least not to gut it) do when it loses the Supreme Court as its ally?

Look for new allies, of course. In a post Monday on The Nation’s blog The Notion, Katrina van den Heuvel calls for a new legislative strategy for protecting and reenforcing reproductive justice.

[…] Since the courts can no longer be relied upon to protect a woman’s right to choose, new strategies are needed. And what’s critical is that Democrats stand strong–not only in championing legislation that will help prevent pregnancies (and here), promote affordable childcare, and provide real family values funding–but also support the right of a woman to control her own body and health choices.

Yep, it may be time for reproductive justice advocates to turn to legislatures, both federal and state. The democrats in the U.S. Congress have already showed their disdain for last week’s decision, introducing the Freedom of Choice Act immediately after the Court’s holding was handed down. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (my representative, thank you very much), would provide significant protection for women whether or not they carry a pregnancy to term. From Planned Parenthood:

FOCA would prevent the government — state and federal — from discriminating against a woman on the basis of reproductive health care decisions like having a child, using birth control, or having an abortion. The bill would forbid government interference in a woman’s right to make private, personal family planning and reproductive health decisions and would also invalidate harmful laws, such as the law recently passed in South Dakota to criminalize abortion.

Of course, the legislation’s chances for passage are gloomy, and one can assume that Bush would veto it if it were to pass. Prospects in state legislatures are similarly glum, with North Dakota passing a new anti-abortion law only yesterday. A legislative strategy might make things more difficult in the short term (more holes to fill), but be better in the long term, or at least for the long haul of the Roberts court. Then again, a court pronouncement has a lot of power. I just don’t think we’ll be hearing pro-woman pronouncements from this Supreme Court, or from many state courts, any time soon.

Want to do something about it? Write to your Senator or Represenative and tell her/him to support FOCA.


3 Comments so far
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[…] Pro Choice America’s National Call in Day to Support the Freedom of Choice Act (discussed here). Here’s how it’s […]

Pingback by a bird and a bottle

there are so many issues where dems could get on the offensive – access to birth control, sex education, etc. – and finally put the religious right on the defensive. that’s where i want to see some serious legislation, even if GWB will veto it; it sets the groundwork for a democratic white house.

Comment by professorplum

it’s a fair point, Plum. Though I don’t think we should diminish how important it would be for the Dems to take a real stand about abortion rights, not just the related but more politically palatable issues.

Comment by bean

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