By Leslie Salzillo / Daily Kos
Talk show hosts are not known to expand on the subject of abortion. But John Oliver is not the average nighttime host and wades his way into a plethora of deep controversial issues. The Last Week Tonight political humorist started off his Sunday night show with an interesting attention-grabber and segue.
Tonight’s subject concerns breast implants. Some are against them. Others believe they’re fine in rare cases. And many believe you should be able to get them whenever the f*ck you want... Sorry, did I say breast implants? I meant abortions. Tonight’s main topic concerns abortions. (Huge round of applause)
Oliver beckons his TV audience not to change the channel, saying he knows it’s a polarizing topic. The show is well worth watching not only for the humor, but for the learning experience. He starts by interviewing several people on the street:
Young woman: “If I had to pick I would say that I’m pro-choice, but personally I’m more on a somewhere in the middle.”
Young woman: “I wouldn’t [have an abortion], but I can’t choose for other people.”
Young man: “I’m what do you call it, pro-life? I think when the baby gets a heartbeat that should be the cut off point from my stance. I’m not the guy that I want everyone to follow my stance.”
Oliver then says about the young man’s response, “not needing anyone to follow your stance is a healthy attitude to abortion.” He adds the “truth is, people’s opinions on abortion make up a full spectrum” and most believe it should be legal in at least a few circumstances. Oliver brings up the Gallup study that reveals only 19 percent of Americans believe abortion should be completely illegal. He advises the TV audience in that 19-percentage range, that they don’t need to watch the rest of the show (but to come back at 11:29 for the close).
The rest of us really do need to talk about abortion laws, because wherever you are on the spectrum, whether you’re like me, who believe that women should have the right to choose, or whether you believe abortion should only be allowed in a few circumstances, this story should concerns you.
During his show, John Oliver goes over some facts:
Since 2010 new state laws have contributed to the closure of about 70 abortion clinics. These four states (North Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri and South Dakota) are down to exactly one abortion clinic each.
Quickly adding some comic relief to that poignantly ridiculous statistic, Oliver adds, “That’s right, Mississippi now has 4x as many esses (in their name) as it has abortion clinics.” Oliver says the issue is not just about the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade anymore. It’s now also to do with the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling that says “states can create restrictions as long as they don’t place an undue burden that places and a substantial obstacle in the path of the woman seeking an abortion.” Oliver adds “meaning women can be asked to jump through a few hoops — just not too many…” The political commentator begins to touch on the highly restrictive Texas HB2 bill introduced in 2013, which has two key stipulations including a requirement for abortion physicians to have hospital privileges, even though 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester. That means 90% of abortions are generally non-surgical procedures that don’t require a large surgical facility, operating room, or hospital stay.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have argued there is no medical basis for requiring local admitting privileges. Safe and legal abortions have a mortality rate of 0.00073 percent — nearly ten times less than what one study found was the risk of dying as a result of a colonoscopy.
Other restrictions include (but are not limited to) a law that requires a doctor to tell women seeking abortions that abortions increase the risk of cancer—without a shred of scientific evidence to prove that risk is true. Also, some states require ultrasounds be given and shown to women seeking an abortion. Twenty-seven states require a mandatory waiting periods of 72 hours, which forces some women, including rape/incest victims, to take off work, travel hundreds of miles, and pay for hotel/outside expenses during the wait period before they can get a procedure their mothers and grandmothers fought to make legal.
In closing, John Oliver stresses that Americans need to pay more attention to laws that are being introduced and passed like the bill in Alabama that would close that one clinic because it’s near a school.
”If all this has made you sad or angry then you should really keep an eye on these laws.”
Pro-choice advocates around the country are applauding Jon Oliver for giving this issue a full show’s time slot, and for standing up for a woman’s reproductive right to choose. More, please.