States pushing restrictions that bar most abortions
Emboldened by the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, antiabortion lawmakers and activists in numerous states are pushing neartotal bans on the procedure in a deliberate frontal attack on Roe v. Wade.
Mississippi and Kentucky have passed laws that would ban most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which means as early as six weeks, when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant. Georgia could join them if Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signs a measure that has been sent to him.
And a bill in Ohio won final approval Wednesday in the Republican-controlled legislature; it now heads to GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who said he will sign it. The final votes followed a spirited committee hearing where abortion rights activists evoked an era of back alleys and coat-hanger abortions.
Similar bills have been filed in at least seven other states with antiabortion GOP majorities in their legislatures.
Alabama may go further, with legislation introduced last week to criminalize abortion at any stage unless the mother’s health is in jeopardy.
The chief sponsor of the Alabama bill, Rep. Terri Collins, acknowledged that the measure – like the heartbeat bills – is intended as a direct challenge to Roe, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
“To me this is an issue the court simply got wrong years ago,” said Collins, who hopes President Donald Trump’s appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court lead to a reconsideration of Roe.
Staci Fox, Atlanta-based CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said these bans are “blatantly unconstitutional and lawmakers know it – they just don’t care.” The goal, she said, is to “challenge access to safe, legal abortion nationally.”
Activists and legal experts on both sides of the debate agree that getting a Supreme Court decision on such a defining case is unlikely any time soon.
The bans may face difficulties just reaching the high court, given that Roe established a clear right to an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.