John Oliver unpacks the troubling state of anti-abortion laws in America

Oliver's right: You'll need to watch some comforting sloth videos after this.


Michelle Jaworski


Published Feb 22, 2016   Updated May 27, 2021, 4:41 am CDT

John Oliver is taking on the issue at the center of one of the Supreme Court’s biggest upcoming debates.

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The Last Week Tonight host knew that abortion is polarizing, and that he wouldn’t be able to convince a certain segment of people to support it no matter what he said. So instead of doing that, he painted a picture of what abortion laws have become in many states.

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Planned Parenthood vs Casey allows states to put restrictions on women’s access to abortion clinics with TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, making it nearly impossible to access an abortion in some parts of the country. Clinics are forced to adhere to building regulations they don’t need, doctors have to tell patients medically inaccurate information, and there’s often a waiting period between the first appointment and getting an abortion.

And when a place does create a building that follows those regulations, state legislatures try to pass other laws to shut it down. That’s happening now in Alabama.

The reality of those laws is already here: a 13-year-old girl who was raped can’t get an abortion at the clinic she drove four hours to reach. Her only option is to go to New Mexico, wait three days, and pay $5,000. Another woman called a clinic to ask what she could use in her kitchen to give herself an abortion.

“Abortion cannot be theoretically legal,” Oliver said. “It has to be literally accessible.”

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Screengrab via LastWeekTonight/YouTube

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*First Published: Feb 22, 2016, 9:59 am CST