June 22, 2021

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Conservatives say ocular abortion laws to target Roe vs. Wade

Conservatives say ocular abortion laws to target Roe vs.  Wade

Energized by the conservative bent of the US Supreme Court, lawmakers in republican-led states have filed hundreds of restrictions on abortion, including near-total bans, eager to offer the vehicle to achieve a long-standing goal: the dissolution of Roe vs. Wade.

The flurry of bills introduced this year – the first legislative session since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was upheld last fall, cementing the court’s conservative majority – reflects the growing sense of opportunity among abortion opponents.

“There’s just a lot of hope out there on the pro-life side,” said the Arizona state senator. Nancy Barto, in Republican. “We haven’t made much progress for a long time. Everyone is seeing the possibilities now. He encouraged the states. “

And they are encouraged not only to further restrict the procedure, but to challenge the historic 1973 ruling that established the right to abortion nationwide.

Advocates of the right to abortion have identified some 500 measures that state-level lawmakers have introduced to prevent the procedure, including bans based on the gestational age of the fetus, as well as bans on terminating a pregnancy due to race, sex, or genetic abnormalities. . Some bills would prevent doctors from prescribing abortion pills through telemedicine visits; others would allow men with paternity claims to block an abortion against the wishes of a pregnant woman.

And both sides in the abortion debate are promoting laws that look forward to a potential post-Roe nation, where access to the procedure would vary from state to state.

“What’s happening this year is a continuation” of the flurry of strict abortion bills in 2019, said Kristin Ford, director of national communications for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “It’s almost as if the anti-choice movement threw all their cruelest attacks into a blender.”

The frenzied legislative action and legal challenges surrounding the issue believe that public opinion on abortion has remained relatively stable over the past two decades. Americans are more or less evenly divided when Gallup asks whether they consider themselves “pro-choice” or “pro-life”. A sizeable majority support legal abortion in some circumstances, and polls have found that by a good margin, respondents don’t want Roe vs. Earn money to be overturned.

In recent years, however, states have passed an abortion ban with the aim of overturning that court decision. A ban, a 2018 Mississippi law to outlaw nearly all abortions after 15 weeks, awaits in Supreme Court limbo, where judges took an unusually long time to announce whether a review was granted or denied, leaving the scope of the court’s appetite to revisit Roe unclear.

“I don’t read minds and I don’t bet on Supreme Court cases,” said Katie Glenn, government affairs consultant for Americans United for Life. “There were many intelligent people who thought the court would overturn Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey ”- a 1992 case that affirmed the constitutional right to abortion, but also expanded the capacity of states to regulate it.

Elizabeth Nash, who follows state reproductive health policy at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports access to abortion, said nowadays “it’s pretty clear the court is solidly anti-abortion “.

“What is unclear is what kind of cases they will take that could undermine abortion rights,” Nash said.

The most direct threats to Roe are the various prohibitions. The trend accelerated after Judge Brett Kavanaugh entered court in 2018 and continued this year in states like South Carolina and Arkansas. The latter approved a bill banning abortion in all cases except to save the mother’s life; does not include exemptions for rape or incest.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, after signing the Arkansas law in March, acknowledged that it “contradicts the binding precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” but noted that “the intent of the legislation was to set the stage for the overturning of current jurisprudence by the Supreme Court. “

The fact that the court has yet to rule on such abortion bans has not deterred lawmakers at the state level; if anything, they seem more eager to propose their own versions.

“There is a certain sense that some states want to have their name on the case that the court ultimately decides to overturn or change the underlying abortion law,” said Laurie Sobel, associate director for women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan health non-profit organization.

Mallory Quigley, spokesperson for Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, said the bevy of bans creates an “snowball effect” that fuels the argument that the American public – through its elected representatives – wants Roe to be revisited.

“We know the court is not immune to public opinion,” Quigley said. “The more states advance these bills, the greater the demand for the Supreme Court to carry weight.”

Meanwhile, a tight Supreme Court victory last year for defenders of the right to abortion – a decision that tears down a Louisiana abortion law – also opened a window for opponents, with Chief Justice John’s opinion. G. Roberts Jr. in the event that he has signaled his willingness to consider other regulations.

“That case has essentially called for other types of abortion restrictions to come to court for clarity,” Sobel said, noting that the current crushing of accounts can be attributed “not just to the confirmation of the new justice, but to the opening of the created chief judge. “

The Barto of Arizona is among the state legislators who have introduced legislation to eliminate access to abortion. Her bill, which was passed Thursday by the legislature and is headed for the governor’s desk, would ban abortions based on genetic diseases such as Down’s syndrome, an act of selective breeding that she believes amounts to discrimination in towards people with disabilities. Doctors who perform abortions in these cases would be subject to criminal penalties.

His efforts combined with a federal appeals court decision last week to support a similar ban in Ohio. The decision conflicts with the decisions of other federal districts, offering an opportunity for the Supreme Court to intervene.

The genetic anomaly disposition “is a bigger bite than we’ve been taking in a while,” Barto said. “It will make people think.”

Its bill would also prohibit the distribution of abortion pills by mail, another focus this year due to the rise in telemedicine during the pandemic. The Biden administration last week temporarily lifted the requirement for an in-person visit to obtain abortion drugs. Supporters of the right to abortion are lobbying the administration to make this change permanent.

Barto said banning the distribution of such pills by mail is a necessary security measure. Opponents of such warrants note that the Food and Drug Administration says drug-induced abortions are safe for terminating pregnancies before 10 weeks. They consider such bills more about finding new ways to inhibit women’s access to abortion.

“We saw bans on the methods used during the second quarter. We are now seeing attempts to limit an important method of early abortion, ”Nash said.

Supporters on both sides say there is also an increase in states changing their constitutions and statutes in preparation for the potential overthrow of Roe vs. Wade.

Voters in Kansas, for example, will consider an anti-abortion amendment to the state’s constitution next year. Lawmakers introduced the amendment in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that access to abortion was “a fundamental right” in the Kansas Constitution.

“It was a complete shock to most Kansas when in 2019 their state Supreme Court discovered this right to abortion that had never been eliminated in the more than 100 years of the publication of the Kansas Constitution,” said Glenn of Americans. United for Life. “We’ve seen many lawmakers say,” Could this happen in our state? “”

These moves were not limited to abortion opponents. In New Mexico, lawmakers repealed an abortion ban that had been on the books since 1969 (and which was inapplicable after Roe vs Wade) in order to ensure that the right to abortion was preserved in the state even if Roe is no longer. the standard citizen.

Anti-abortion advocates are also entering other controversial state battles this year, namely the series of voting restrictions introduced in response to former President Trump’s false allegation that the 2020 election was rife with fraud. Polls show Republican voter confidence in the election plummeted with Trump’s refusal to accept last year’s results. Susan B. Anthony List, along with other social conservatives, launched a multimillion-dollar campaign this year to support tougher voting laws.

“We are engaging in this fight because our very ability to win elections relies on our ability to present voters, which requires voters to trust the system,” Quigley said.

Rachel Sussman, vice president of state policy and advocate for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said she is not surprised that lawmakers opposing abortion are also promoting laws that restrict voting rights, as well as legislation focused on transgender people. , in particular by restricting access to ban or completely ban certain medical procedures for trans young people and regulate their participation in school sports.

Conservative lawmakers “are using a coordinated strategy to maintain their control by any means possible, including changing the rules of engagement and dismantling democracy altogether,” Sussman said.

“This threat is rooted in everyone’s ability to live free,” he added, “whether it’s the ability to make the decision about their own body or whether it’s getting the crucial medical care they need to live. [as] their full selves. “