No-com­pro­mise bills re­veal state di­vides with Roe v. Wade on ropes

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

In New York, it’s eas­ier than ever to ob­tain an abor­tion up un­til the mo­ment of birth. Not so in Ken­tucky, Mis­sis­sippi and Ohio, which en­acted leg­is­la­tion this year ban­ning most abor­tions after the de­tec­tion of a fe­tal heart­beat, as early as six weeks.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade de­ci­sion was sup­posed to cre­ate a na­tional stan­dard on the pro­ce­dure, but with Roe on the ropes, a flood of abor­tion leg­is­la­tion has ex­panded and un­der­lined the di­vide be­tween red states seek­ing to over­turn the high court rul­ing and blue states fight­ing to pre­serve it.

Mary Ziegler, pro­fes­sor at Florida State Univer­sity Col­lege of Law, at­trib­uted this year’s ag­gres­sive leg­isla­tive push on both sides of the abor­tion is­sue to a com­bi­na­tion of the in­creas­ingly po­lar­ized po­lit­i­cal cli­mate and a “re­ac­tion to the court.”

“The heart­beat bills are de­signed to be a ve­hi­cle for the court to over­turn Roe quickly, and the New York bill is one of the kinds of things you’d ex­pect to see in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a post-Roe world,” she said.

The in­di­rect credit goes to Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh, whose ad­di­tion to the Supreme Court in Oc­to­ber so­lid­i­fied the 5-4 con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity and spurred the am­bi­tious pro-life bills mak­ing their way through Repub­li­can-led state leg­is­la­tures.

Michael Gonidakis, pres­i­dent of Ohio Right to Life, called the fe­tal heart­beat bill “the best strat­egy at this time and with this court” to scut­tle Roe.

“We be­lieve this is the most pro-life court we have had in over a gen­er­a­tion,” said Mr. Gonidakis. “When Pres­i­dent Trump’s two nom­i­nees be­came mem­bers of the court, we knew we had the best shot with SCOTUS in my life­time. Of course, there are no guar­an­tees, but we feel con­fi­dent.”

The re­ac­tion has been op­po­site in blue states such as New York, where ac­tivists and law­mak­ers who sup­port abor­tion rights have pushed leg­is­la­tion to “cod­ify Roe” by en­shrin­ing abor­tion pro­tec­tions into state law, ex­pand­ing ac­cess and re­mov­ing re­stric­tions.

“It’s a re­flec­tion of how the pol­i­tics of abor­tion have po­lar­ized fur­ther,” said Ms. Ziegler. “You see Democrats in blue states ex­pect­ing to make po­lit­i­cal hay from bills that might have been con­sid­ered ex­treme in the past, and some­thing sim­i­lar be­ing true of heart­beat bills.”

New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo, a Demo­crat, signed a bill in Jan­uary clear­ing the way for late-term abor­tions. In Illi­nois, a bill to re­peal a 1995 law re­quir­ing parental no­ti­fi­ca­tion be­fore mi­nors may un­dergo abor­tions cleared a Se­nate com­mit­tee last month.

Illi­nois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Demo­crat, signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der in Jan­uary en­sur­ing that state em­ploy­ees have abor­tion in­sur­ance cov­er­age after vow­ing to make Illi­nois “the most pro­gres­sive state in the nation” on “women’s re­pro­duc­tive rights.”

Ver­mont is one of seven states with vir­tu­ally no lim­its on abor­tion, and state leg­is­la­tors are de­ter­mined to keep it that way with leg­is­la­tion and a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment mak­ing of­fi­cial the pro-choice sta­tus quo. Each has been ap­proved by one leg­isla­tive cham­ber.

De­spite the blue state ac­tiv­ity, the Guttmacher In­sti­tute, a think tank once af­fil­i­ated with Planned Par­ent­hood, said that “those ef­forts were over­shad­owed by at­tempts to re­strict abor­tion ac­cess.”

“Although the over­all num­ber of abor­tion re­stric­tions in­tro­duced so far in 2019 was es­sen­tially the same as in the first quar­ter of 2018, the ex­treme na­ture of this year’s bills is un­prece­dented,” Guttmacher said in its April 3 anal­y­sis.

“In par­tic­u­lar, con­ser­va­tive state leg­is­la­tures are look­ing to en­act abor­tion bans

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