The “War on Women” currently being waged by conservatives in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures is well documented. From attacking contraception to insulting rape survivors to threatening funding for reproductive healthcare, anti-choice legislators and activists are staging an assault on women’s health, privacy and autonomy.
But while extreme attacks on reproductive rights – such as radical “personhood” bills that threaten to criminalize even some forms of birth control – rightly receive significant attention and opposition, more incremental anti-choice proposals frequently escape wide notice and face minimal resistance as they become law. Often presented as “common-sense” or “women’s health” measures, these laws are in fact meant to gradually chip away at reproductive health access, undermining the foundation of long-standing rights.
By passing mandatory ultrasound and waiting period laws, or requiring doctors to provide inaccurate medical information, anti-choice politicians create a culture in which women’s rights are up for grabs. As conservatives call for smaller government, they pass laws that intrude into our most private and significant decisions, put a script in our doctors’ hands, and tell us we do not know our own minds. In addition, these laws are meant to chip away at women’s constitutionally protected right to autonomy over our own bodies in a deliberate attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade.
The list of anti-choice tactics below is by no means comprehensive. State legislatures in recent years have had some success in restricting women’s healthcare through defunding Planned Parenthood and other family planning services. At the national level, activists and legislators have staged a very public battle to restrict access to birth control and emergency contraception through the Affordable Care Act.
But this report outlines some of the quiet ways that anti-choice activists and legislators are working to restrict women’s access to safe, affordable and reliable reproductive care. These tactics are often overshadowed by louder, broader debates, but their ultimate goal is the same: to whittle down women’s reproductive rights, and eliminate access to safe and legal abortion.