By Stephen C. Webster on January 03, 2014

A study published Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute puts some math behind Democrats' "War on Women" rhetoric, finding that reproductive rights really have been under attack like never before over the last three years.

The study tallied up a total of 205 new restrictions on abortion that have cleared state legislatures since 2011. "Just 189 were enacted during the entire previous decade (2001-2010)," the study noted.

2013 saw the second-most new anti-abortion laws, with 70. A total of 83 new restrictions passed in 2011, making it the busiest year for anti-abortion lawmakers.

More abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade

A slim majority of the states, 27, were considered in the study to be "hostile" to abortion rights. Right about 56 percent of American women live in these states.

The new laws passed in the last three years include restrictions on abortion providers, like the Texas law that requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals; restrictions on whether private insurance policies may cover abortion, like Michigan's so-called "rape insurance" law; bans on abortion at up to 12-20 weeks into a pregnancy; and new limitations on how women may access medication abortions.

"The historic rise of these attacks on women's health can be traced back to 2010, when out-of-touch tea party politicians picked up key seats in legislatures across the country, promising to create jobs and boost our economy -- but immediately focused on ending access to safe and legal abortion and limiting women's health care options," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in an advisory. "The laws these extreme politicians are passing are more than attacks on women's health -- they are attacks on what Americans believe. The majority of Americans, regardless of political party, believe that a woman should be able to make personal medical decisions without political interference -- that is why politicians had to employ every underhanded trick in the book to get these laws passed, sometimes quite literally in the dark of night."

While most of these measures have been tied up in court by pro-choice advocacy groups, victory is not assured. The Supreme Court is expected to take on several of the leading cases, including whether private health insurance policies will provide universal access to birth control.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor issued a temporary stay on New Year's Eve against the federal government's rule requiring universal access to birth control, exempting a handful of companies from compliance ahead of a full hearing on the matter.

The Supreme Court is also likely to weigh in on laws that require abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges, like a measure in Texas that closed a third of the state's clinics. A similar measure was passed by Republicans in Wisconsin, but a federal appeals court put it on hold pending a full trial.

Photo: "Screaming woman," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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