Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, more than a dozen states have enacted legislation that prevents private insurance companies from footing the bill for abortions. Twenty-three states have passed such laws since Republicans realized the Obamacare is here to stay, and states like Texas have made it increasingly difficult to have the procedure done. The Republican reaction to Obamacare has been destructive and petty, but it's unacceptable that Republicans are taking their frustrations out on women.
Once open enrollment begins, women in those 23 states will be unable to use an insurance exchange to purchase a health plan that covers abortion except in extreme circumstances. According to Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, states started passing restrictive laws "as soon as the ink was dry" on the act. "You don't have over 20 states passing laws on an issue and not have it considered a major trend," she said.
But what does this have to do with the Obamacare? Wouldn't Republicans have been pushing for these restrictive laws anyway?
Yes, but not with as much intensity. In 2011, the year after the act was signed into law, state legislators proposed more than 1100 "reproductive health and rights-related provisions," according to a Guttmacher Institute analysis; compare this to just 950 in 2010.
But it gets worse the deeper you dig: nearly 70 percent of the 2011 provisions restrict abortion service access. In 2010, only 26 percent of new provisions included abortion restrictions. The year 2011 also broke the record for most new abortion restrictions enacted — a whopping 92. The previous record was 34 in 2005.
The act may have fueled the fire for Republicans but their real ace-in-the-hole was leveraging the momentum of the then-strong Tea Party movement. The GOP also experienced a surge in political offices after the 2010 elections.
It has becomes clear that this is a high school-level maturity game where Republicans, frustrated by Obama's reelection, the passage of Obamacare, and the ever-rising deficit are passive-aggressively riling up their party to make abortions less accessible for women. Apparently, immaturity works; though they're lacking support from 20-somethings, minorities, and libertarians, the GOP still has plenty of religious fanatics who will get behind anti-abortion legislation.
The Republican reaction to the health care law is terrible for women. Now, more than ever we need a strong coalition of people to stand up for women's rights. Our bodies have been scapegoated for way, way too long.