Commentary: If pro-choice, get angry and become active

Kathryn Kolbert

argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 Supreme Court case that has been widely credited with saving Roe v. Wade

In 1973 and the first years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, abortion was legal, accessible in most states, and low-income women could pay for it with Medicaid.

Today, there are more than 1,000 laws against abortion on the books nationwide and federal laws ban Medicaid and federal insurance or health plans from paying for it, affecting low-income Americans, government workers, and members of the military. A record 334 laws restricting abortion access have been enacted since the start of 2010 alone.

These laws are not just efforts to protect women's health, as those who oppose abortion claim. Seventeen states force doctors to give women medically inaccurate information, such as the fact that abortion causes breast cancer (it doesn't). Texas laws at issue in the Supreme Court case that is expected to be decided this week have closed 75 percent of the clinics in that state, making abortion unavailable in many areas. As the National Institute for Reproductive Health puts it, "Many state legislators will stop at nothing to prevent a woman from getting an abortion even when that means lying to her, delaying her, doing tests she doesn't need, making it cost more than it should, letting people harass her, and closing nearby clinics."

The cumulative impact affects millions of women in nearly every state and runs counter to the desires of most voters who want abortion to be safe, affordable, and available without embarrassment, pressure, or shame.

The attacks are not limited to abortion. The cutoff of Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in 10 states means low-income women won't receive birth control, as well as cancer and STD screening, referrals for mental health and domestic violence services, increasing the likelihood that women will face unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.

So I cannot for the life of me understand why there seems to be such a muted response to the widespread attacks on women's ability to have an abortion or use contraception. Where is the outrage?

No rock stars and corporate convention planners are pulling their business from Texas like we saw in North Carolina when that state forced transgender people into inappropriate bathrooms. No nationwide outcry like we saw when Arizona targeted immigrants with its pernicious "show me your papers" law.

No marches on Washington, protests at state capitals, or emotional speeches telling the stories of women affected by these draconian measures. The attacks on women's reproductive rights have become so common, so expected, so routine, that it is no longer news.

It's time to be outraged again. It can actually make a difference. Presidents matter. The upcoming presidential election will determine the composition of the Supreme Court. Another solid pro-choice vote on the court will help advocates secure stronger legal protections for reproductive rights and determine the law in this area for decades.

This election provides the opportunity to elect not just the first woman president but one deeply committed to women, girls, and reproductive rights across the globe.

Restoration of pro-choice leadership in Congress (yes, Democrats can win back control of the House and Senate) can ensure greater access to contraception through multiple federal programs.

Expanding the pro-choice electorate can remove the stranglehold anti-choice members have on state legislatures and gubernatorial seats prior to the redrawing of district lines in 2020.

If there is ever a time to be livid and turn that anger to activism, it is now.