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July 2015: Probably a Very Bad Month for Abortion Rights

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Been feeling good about the nation in the last few days? Well, that’s fine and all. It’s the weekend. Now get back to fighting to preserve basic reproductive rights for women that are under severe attack from your Confederate-flag waving, gay marriage hating states.

If the Supreme Court doesn’t step in by the end of June, almost every abortion clinic in Texas will stop providing terminations, leaving only eight clinics in six cities to offer services to the 27 million people in its borders. That scenario is devastating. It also might not be the worst thing we see happening as July unfolds. July 1 is also the implementation date of a number of laws that were passed this legislative session, and depending on certain judicial decisions the state of abortion access may be dramatically changing starting in just a few more days.

A last-minute temporary injunction of Kansas’s new ban on D&E abortions will keep that state from losing the ability to offer abortion services past the first trimester, a situation that would have occurred otherwise as of July 1. District Court Judge Larry Hendricks announced on Thursday that the ban will be put on hold for now while litigation surrounding the law continues. Without the injunction, abortion clinics must either induce labor to end a pregnancy that has proceeded past 14 weeks gestation, or simply tell the patient to carry her pregnancy to term.

Meanwhile, July 1 is also the start date of a new 48-hour, face-to-face waiting period the Tennessee legislature passed earlier this spring. That waiting period, as well as a law requiring all abortion clinics meet much more stringent, medically unnecessary “ambulatory surgical center” regulations, was signed by the Governor in May and also will be enforced at the first of the month. A request for an injunction was filed late on June 25, and it is unclear yet if a judge will block it.

One never knows what Anthony Kennedy will actually do so maybe the Court does step in here. I remain skeptical. The gay rights movement has had a lot more victories in recent years than the women’s movement and one can argue that gay men now have more rights than women of any sexual orientation. The fight for freedom must include the right to accessible abortion. That’s in real trouble for large swaths of the nation.

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