I wish it were true that raising the issue of abortion in the state’s Senate race was just a scare tactic by Massachusetts Democrats, as Lisa J. Barstow maintains in her June 12 letter “Markey supporters’ scare tactics over abortion smack of desperation.” While abortion rights may be doing fine here in New England, from a national perspective that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, and other states are enacting record numbers of bills to restrict access to women’s health clinics and abortion. These laws cover a range of measures, including new regulations on abortion clinics forcing them to close; an unconstitutional Arkansas ban on all abortions after 12 weeks, and other states banning them at 20 weeks; mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds; multiday waiting periods; and personhood amendments. Some states have only one operating abortion clinic, and in Texas abortion is so inaccessible that girls and women get unregulated drugs from Mexico.
At the federal level, the House routinely votes to approve similar antiabortion legislation. Representatives are set to vote next week on a bill banning almost all abortions after 20 weeks.
We’d like to believe that the rights of women to make their own health care decisions have long been decided, but that’s just not the case. The recent onslaught of attacks shows that these issues are in real jeopardy, and that raising the threat to abortion rights in the race between Edward Markey and Gabriel Gomez is not just a scare tactic.