The end of abortion? In your dreams, Mike Pence

The end of abortion? In your dreams, Mike Pence
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Vice President Pence has predicted that legal abortion would end in the U.S. “in our time,“ echoing his promise during the 2016 campaign to consign Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that upheld legal abortion in the U.S., to the “ash heap of history.”

Unfortunately, we’re already seeing glimpses of the future evoked by Pence’s cruel promise. In many places in the U.S., especially in rural areas, a woman has few or no nearby options for abortion care, due in large part to politically-motivated restrictions that force clinics to shut down.

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In fact, since January 2011, state politicians have enacted 401 new restrictions that force women to delay abortion care, impose logistical and financial burdens, shame and coerce women, and push care out of reach for some.

 

These restrictions compound the pain and punishment of the decades-old Hyde Amendment, a federal policy that bans insurance coverage for abortion care for low-income women enrolled in Medicaid.

Latinas are hit hardest by many of these restrictions. Due to lack of access to affordable health coverage, contraception, and sexual health information, Latinas are more likely to need abortion care. They’re also less likely to be able to afford it, as Latinas earn about 54 cents on the dollar compared to white men.

Immigrant women face even more barriers to accessing abortion, a reality that is made painfully clear by the treatment of young immigrant women known as the “Janes” by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Young immigrant women in custody of ORR — a federal agency charged with providing them safe shelter and health care — are being blocked by the Trump administration through a new no-abortion policy and by the shocking coercion tactics of ORR Director Scott Lloyd.

Among other abuses of power, Lloyd has forced multiple young women to endure medically unnecessary ultrasounds, forced them to go to religiously-affiliated fake women’s health centers where staff shamed and misled them about abortion. He even flew across the country to personally intimidate a young woman seeking abortion. When his draconian tactics have failed, Lloyd simply ordered the young woman in question to be held hostage to stop her from getting an abortion.

I have no doubt that the treatment of “the Janes” comports with Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceJuan Williams: Buttigieg already making history Pence: Mueller report confirms 'no collusion, no obstruction' Melania Trump, Karen Pence say they're ready to serve four more years in White House MORE’s vision for all of us. But regardless of his regressive fantasies, Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land and abortion remains legal in all 50 states.

It’s better when people have access to a range of options for safe abortion care, and when no one fears arrest or jail for ending a pregnancy, seeking medical care, or supporting someone who has decided to have an abortion.

Because when a person has access to medically accurate information and a range of safe, legal options, they are able to make the health decisions that are best for them. When the opposite is true, they may turn to ineffective or dangerous methods to end their pregnancy. Yet Pence would rather take us backward, to a time when people had fewer options and more numerous fears.

While Mike Pence may dream of a future where women’s personal decisions rest solely in the hands of white male religious zealots, we’re not there — yet.

And Latinas are fighting like hell to make sure it never happens. Latina advocates from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley helped to win the Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which affirmed that a person should be able to get safe, legal abortion care without needless restrictions. We’re also organizing in states like Texas, Virginia, and Florida, where some of the fiercest battles for reproductive justice are being fought.

I’m not giving up hope for a better future, where not only is abortion legal, but where each of us — wherever we live, whatever our age or income, and whenever or however we came to this country, can get the health care we need, without shame, restrictions, or politicians standing in the way.

Jessica González-Rojas is the executive director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).