John Oliver spent 29 sobering minutes of Sunday’s Last Week Tonight highlighting abortion laws in the United States – and one minute celebrating the cuteness of sloths. The host opened the episode with the results of a 2015 Gallup poll, revealing only 19 percent of participants believe abortion should be totally illegal. After inviting those audience members to step aside until sloth time, Oliver highlighted the absurdity America’s abortion regulations.
“Since 2010, new state laws have contributed to the closure of about 70 abortion clinics,” he said, noting that four states – North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi and Missouri – have only one clinic each. And as a result of the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling, “States can create restrictions as long as they don’t place an undue burden that places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.”
This vague verbiage has allowed for the rise of TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, which lawmakers have repeatedly claimed will protect women’s health – despite the hurdles it places in front of a pregnant woman. “When you’re that insistent about women’s health, it starts to sound suspicious,” Oliver said. “It’s like having a folder on your computer called ‘Definitely Not Porn.’ You’re not fooling anyone.
“Abortion cannot just be theoretically legal – it has to be literally accessible,” Oliver said, wrapping up his argument. After some pointed words for the 19 percent who believe abortion should be totally illegal (“What the fuck is wrong with you?”), he invited them back to their televisions for an adorable palette cleanser: a clip of sloths in a bucket and a real-life sloth in a nightcap.