By MEAGHAN WINTER
A YEAR ago, a mother and self-described “God-fearing woman” called me after she had an abortion. She said that earlier, when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she drove straight to what she thought was a comprehensive health care provider near her home in Columbus, Ohio. When she asked about abortion, the staff told her she shouldn’t murder her child. Ohio requires an ultrasound before an abortion, so the woman listened to the staff’s condemnations, taking them to heart, crying. She told me later, “I didn’t know where else to go.”
She had landed at a crisis pregnancy center, a religious nonprofit organization that obstructs women’s access to abortion. In recent years, many more low-income women are finding themselves in her shoes.
Abortion foes are subsidizing these centers with public funds, while pushing to defund comprehensive health care providers. The Republicans who voted in September to block Planned Parenthood’s funding weren’t protesting covering abortion with federal dollars — that’s been restricted since 1977. Instead, they want to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing cancer screenings, ultrasounds, contraception and other services.
The question is not whether the federal government will defund Planned Parenthood — it won’t — but how many states will. Since July, legislators in at least 11 states have proposed bills designed to restrict Planned Parenthood from providing health care to low-income women. Some of those bills draw from a model written by Americans United for Life (A.U.L.), a legal organization that for decades has quietly drafted model anti-abortion legislation.
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