Samantha Bee just can't with Texas' ridiculous new abortion law.

Lawmakers from around the country are so concerned about women's health, they've gone out of their way to make sure clinics that offer abortions are as "safe" as possible.

Image via "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"/YouTube.

These laws — which regulate everything from the sex segregation of changing rooms in a facility to the width of the hallways — are so strict that dozens of clinics across the U.S. have been forced to close.

Image via "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"/YouTube.


Between 2010 and 2013, more than 50 had shut their doors

Samantha Bee spoke to one of the authors of one such law — Texas' HB2 — which currently is being challenged at the Supreme Court. To hear him tell it, he's just a sweet old guy who's concerned for everyone's safety. How considerate!

As funny as Bee's segment was, these laws are no joke.

Unable to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion opponents have resorted to a sort of slow chipping away of abortion access at the state level. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights advocacy organization, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions in just the last four years. After Texas' HB2 was passed, more than half of Texas' clinics were forced to close.

A map of the remaining abortion clinics in Texas, mostly clustered in large urban areas, leaving many rural Texans with few options for reproductive health services. Image via "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"/YouTube.

Areas like Texas' Rio Grande Valley — home to many poor and immigrant women — have seen their last clinic close in the last several years, forcing those seeking abortions to travel 240 miles to the nearest facility. As a result, reports of illegal abortions or people crossing into Mexico for the procedure are on the rise. 

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. GIF via "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"/YouTube.

Even before HB2 was passed, a Texas Policy Evaluation Project report found that an estimated 100,000 Texans have tried to self-induce abortions. Many of those surveyed in the study cited lack of affordable access to reproductive health services as a reason. 

As part of the Supreme Court case against HB2, real people who have chosen abortion have been sharing their stories with the justices. And they're critically important.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images.

One woman

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"I often tell people — and I believe it to be true — that access to a safe, legal abortion saved my life. If I had not had an abortion, I would have never been able to graduate high school, go to college, [or] escape my high-poverty rural county in Oregon.

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Another:

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"I was living in a three-bedroom house with nine people in an economically struggling area of town and I had no child care options available, besides dropping out of school. ... However, once I had my abortion, I was registered back in school three weeks later and went on to earn the highest grade-point average (GPA) in my high school, earning the opportunity to speak at graduation."

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Another:

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"[A]t the age of 18, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer and did not want to follow in the footsteps of my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother in becoming a mother by the age of 18. Taking control of my reproductive freedom gave me the ability to be the first person in my family to graduate from high school, the first person to graduate from college, and the first person to achieve a post-graduate degree." 

Many court watchers expect the justices will deadlock 4-4 on the case, which would leave the lower court ruling upholding Texas' law in place.

Should that happen, millions of Texas women will continue to have poor access to safe, reliable reproductive health care. 

Relying on the courts to strike these restrictions down is no guarantee. If we want to get rid of them, we need to elect lawmakers who won't pass them in the first place.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

Not just presidents and senators, but congressmen. State senators. State legislators. County executives. Mayors. Look up who supports the right to safe, affordable abortion services, and support them in turn. 

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Not just this year, or every four years when there's a huge presidential election, but every election year, no matter how boring or insignificant. (Bee ran a pretty terrific segment on why this is so important in the same show.) Small elections can have big consequences. 

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Vote. 

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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