By Johanna Kaiser, Development & Communications Associate

Planned Parenthood is under attack. That, you likely know. You’ve heard the unfounded claims, seen the wildly inaccurate chart, and if you’re like me, been outraged by the continued attempts to achieve the dangerous goal of defunding this vital safety net for both men and women.

These attacks do nothing but limit access to healthcare, especially for low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for a wide array of treatments including gynecological exams, STD testing, and cancer screenings.  It’s not just Planned Parenthood that is facing these attacks.

Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws, put medically unnecessary restrictions on doctors who provide abortion in order to block women from getting abortions. These laws require abortion clinics to meet the same equipment and staffing standards as hospital-style surgical centers and require  doctors who provide abortions have business agreements known admitting privileges at local hospitals. This is done under the guise of safety, but abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed today and facilities that perform similar outpatient procedures are not required to meet any similar standards. Instead, these new regulations would result in the shutting down of the majority of abortion clinics, making it even harder for women to receive the medical care they need.

Although the methods may change, attacks on women’s health, especially women’s access to abortion and contraception, are nothing new. Fortunately, neither is the ACLU’s ardent defense of reproductive rights. Over the years, our legal program has successfully challenged a number of abortion restrictions in Rhode Island, including:

  • 1973:  Doe v. Israel.  We successfully challenged in federal court a state anti-abortion law that was passed immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
  • 1984: Planned Parenthood v. Board of Medical Review. We successfully challenged a state law requiring husbands to be notified before a woman could have an abortion. (It’s easy to think of this outrageous law as simply a relic of a bygone era, but this unconstitutional law has not been removed from the books, possibly creating a dangerous situation for any woman whose relationship involves domestic violence. The ACLU advocates every year for it to be stricken to ensure no woman is misled by this law.)
  • 1986: Planned Parenthood v. Roberts. We successfully challenged in federal court the state’s onerous “informed consent” and “parental consent” abortion statutes.
  • 1986: Planned Parenthood v. Calderone. We successfully challenged in federal court a law prohibiting health insurers from providing abortion coverage except as an optional rider at an additional premium.
  • 1998: Rhode Island Medical Society v. Pine. We successfully challenged in federal court the constitutionality of a law banning so-called “partial birth abortions.”

Just as we have in the past, the ACLU will continue to defend against perennial threats to abortion rights on the national level and in states across the country, including right here in Rhode Island.

You can learn more about our work on women's rights in Rhode Island here and see how or national office is fighting for reproductive rights here.