One thing I’m noticing in reporting on the birth-control coverage debate is the idea that there’s a culture war “truce” (to use the phrase coined by Mitch Daniels in 2010) currently ongoing, and that a debate about reproductive freedoms enters the national stage out of nowhere and/or out of cynical posturing.
Tell this chart about a so-called culture war “truce”:
What caused this? Sarah Kliff interviewed Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, the country’s oldest antiabortion organization:
Sarah Kliff: There seems to be pretty widespread agreement that a lot changed on abortion rights and restrictions in 2011, with states passing a record number of laws on this issue. How did this happen?
Charmaine Yoest: The most obvious thing was the 2010 election. While the headlines were all about the changing command in the House of Representatives, what we were seeing was a tidal wave of new pro-life legislators in state houses. When we saw this big wave come in, we were ready to grab the ball and run with it. Last year, 28 laws that we were involved with passed. It was breathtaking.
SK: What kind of abortion restrictions saw the most success last year?
CY: There are probably two big ones. The first one, which isn’t that surprising, was a lot of interest in making sure that the new health care law didn’t cover abortion, and addressing insurance coverage….
It’s interesting that Yoest emphasizes Obamacare, as the Guttmacher Institute, which produced the above graphic, notes that the restrictions are far wider than narrow insurance issues. Bans, waiting periods, ultrasounds, prohibiting telemedicine and suffocating clinical regulations all play a very prominent role alongside insurance coverage.
Which is to say that the new Tea Party and far-right state legislators – the ones who were supposed to be all libertarian and focused on the budget while dismantling unions under a culture war truce – also initiated a wave of abortion restrictions beyond anything in recent records.
It should not surprise us if this very active project in the states goes national in the 2012 elections.