US media saw a story in the work boycott and street protests by some 6 million women in Poland that led to a reversal of government plans to put through a complete ban on abortion, including in cases of rape or danger to a woman’s life. Stories in major outlets pointed out that Poland’s laws are already among the most restrictive in Europe; they noted the concerns of human rights advocates that the ban would criminalize women and doctors, and make women who have miscarriages subjects of suspicion and investigation. It was good to see, but it did make one wonder: If those conditions are unacceptable, they’re unacceptable whether they’re de jure or de facto, right?
But there are numerous places in the US where women face real, substantive barriers to abortion; a set of maps from Glamour magazine’s “Abortion in America” series illustrates the numerous states with parental notice and consent laws, waiting periods, travel requirements, the states that ban certain procedures or that prevent private insurers from covering abortion, or that force counseling on women—all measures intended to deny women the ability to access their legal rights. American women, in other words, don’t need to look abroad to find a crisis.
Janine Jackson is the program director of FAIR, and the producer and host ofCounterSpin.