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. 

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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