On his latest episode of HBO‘s Last Week Tonight, Oliver discussed the current situation involving abortion in the US following the Dobbs decision, which overturned the constitutional right to abortion.
Since the constitutional right to abortion was banned in the US, total bans on the procedure have been implemented in Indiana and North Dakota. Meanwhile, abortions are banned after six weeks of pregnancy in South Carolina and twelve weeks in North Carolina and Nebraska.
Altogether, 14 states have enacted near-total abortion bans.
As a way of getting around the bans, a California doctor proposed a “floating abortion clinic” in the Gulf of Mexico to help people in southern states where abortion bans have been enacted to maintain access.
The idea means a clinic would be erected aboard a ship in federal waters, out of reach of state laws, that would offer first-trimester surgical abortions, contraception and other care.
Oliver discussed this idea on his show, comparing it to the plot of Andrew Lawrence’s low-budget action movie Money Plane, which is about a professional thief who decides to rob a futuristic airborne casino full of criminals and can never be arrested.
“Lawless territory, no rules, anything goes. It’s not only a foolproof plan, but it’s also the literal premise for the movie Money Plane. You didn’t hallucinate that during peak Covid. There really was a film about a casino in the sky full of thieves, cartels and arms dealers who can never be arrested because the money plane is always moving in international airspace,” Oliver said.
“If you haven’t seen it, you should, frankly, stop watching this show right now and go watch that instead. If you pop an edible immediately, it should start to kick in right around when you meet the film’s villain – Darius Emanuel Grouch III, aka ‘The Rumble’, played by Kelsey Grammer,” he added.
He then played a clip of comments made by Grammer’s character in the movie when describing the Money Plane.
“Whatever you want to wager on, the ‘money plane’ has you covered. You wanna bet on a dude f***ing an alligator? ‘Money plane,’” Grammer’s character said in the clip.
“It is the Frasier reboot that we deserved,” Oliver joked.
Oliver noted that abortion is still legal in some states, and that theoretically, women living in states where the procedure is banned can travel to other states if they need one.
But he cast doubt on whether this is effective in reality. “For many, traveling across state lines isn’t feasible,” he noted.
“Even before you consider that, in states where abortion remains legal, it’s not like they’ve had a sudden surge in providers to handle out-of-state patients. So there are now significant backlogs, meaning that women who travel to another state may have more difficulty getting appointments, and it may even become hard for those living in some states where it remains legal.
“Abortion bans are, objectively, not safe for women, and can needlessly put them through hell,” he added, before sharing a video of a Texas woman who was forced to give birth to her baby despite being told it would suffocate to death within an hour of being born because abortion is not legal in Texas.
“Medical professionals are now finding themselves caught in the middle between trying to do what they know is medically right for their patients while also not running afoul of the law, or having their license revoked,” Oliver said.
“One doctor said her colleagues were so unsure of whether or not they could legally recommend their patients seek abortions elsewhere that they resorted to saying things like ‘the weather’s really nice in New Mexico right now. You should go check it out.’ Or, ‘I’ve heard traveling to Colorado is really nice this time of year.’ Which isn’t just absurd, I’m not even sure those are effective hints,” he added.
Oliver continued his criticism of the Dodds decision, which, he said, removed decision-making power “from individuals and their doctors” and placed it in the hands of state legislatures.
“The rhetoric around the Dobbs decision was that it simply ‘returned decisions on abortion to the states.’ Which is a very nice way to say it was removing decisions from individuals and their doctors, and place them in the hands of state legislators,” he said.
“And those politicians are now legislating medicine without even a modicum of medical understanding.
“An abortion is a medical decision between a patient and their doctor, full stop,” Oliver added. “And it’s maddening to see some push to make their states safe for little babies, while also making it far more dangerous for the people they grow up to be.”
He continued: “Hopefully, one day, we can eventually get to a place where people who want to end a pregnancy, save their own life, or make any other medical or reproductive decision about their own body, will not have to seek out the same legal loopholes that the “money plane” provides for those who want to bet on a dude f***ing an alligator in front of Frasier.”
His comments come as voters in many states are set to go to polls in local elections this month.
In Virginia, where democrats lost the house and governor’s seat in 2021, but still control the state senate, reproductive rights could be under threat if democrats lose the Senate.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, voters are due to go to the polls this week to vote on an amendment that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.
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