There is a rapidly growing issue that has been all over the news lately: the sudden rise in state legislators passing anti-abortion bills. South Carolina, Arizona, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, just to name a few, are amongst the states attempting to enact unconstitutional legislation that restrict abortion access and target abortion providers. These bills, some proposed while others have already passed, place undue burdens on women seeking abortions.
Louisiana unofficially banned second trimester abortions by making it illegal to use the method of abortion that is most common for second-tri terminations. The dilation and evacuation method (D&E) is the type of procedure performed on women who are further along than 14 weeks. By banning this method of abortion, the state is making access for women harder due to an increase in costs for the procedure as the most common method can no longer be used. It may also force women to undergo a riskier procedure since the safe and proven method is now illegal. Simply, Louisiana, with only a few abortion clinics left, is putting its’ women at risk. Not to mention that the governor, John Bel Edwards, is also trying to enforce a mandatory 72 hour waiting period for a women to receive an abortion.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Senate just passed a law that will not only strip the medical license from a doctor who performs an abortion, but the provider will also be charged with a felony and could face up to three years in jail! This is not an attempt to keep abortion access safe, it is an outright ban on abortion altogether. This bill is unprecedented because this one includes a punishment whereas similar bills only ban the abortion. The bill’s sponsor announced that the goal of the bill is to ultimately overturn the Supreme Court ruling in 1973 of Roe v. Wade—the case that made abortion legal. Oklahoman conservatives are keeping their fingers crossed that Donald Trump will take the presidency this November as this law directly conflicts with federal law. Trump in the White House means a better chance of the bill holding up when it inevitably reaches a higher court. Trump has stated many times that he plans on appointing anti-abortion Justices to the Supreme Court and as his running mate.
Thankfully, politicians who recognize this extreme violation of rights are on our side and taking action to help end these atrocities. Governor De Blasio of New York stated, “While this dangerous attempt to impinge on a woman’s constitutional right to choose sits in front of Oklahoma’s top executive, NYC urges Governor Fallin to oppose the bill and sends a message to women in Oklahoma and other states where women’s reproductive rights are threatened: New York welcomes you, supports you, and is open to all those seeking safe, legal abortion.”
Luckily, the Oklahoma governor showed some semblance of sense and vetoed this bill just before her five day time frame would expire. This is a short term victory because many similar bills attempting to do the same thing will, undoubtedly, follow shortly.
Arizona has taken two steps forward and four steps backward. Governor Doug Ducey’s (R) bill forcing an outdated label on medication abortion was not passed nor was the bill that required doctors to tell patients a medical abortion is reversible (total lie!). Even though medical misinformation was put to a stop, he came right back with a bill that will cut off Medicaid funding to abortion providers. The director of Medicare and Medicaid services recently sent a letter to all 50 states reminding everyone that it is not allowed to cut funding from a provider because they offer abortion services. Completely disregarding the letter, and standing law, Governor Ducey signed a bill that will make it very easy to cut funding for providers. Providers must make sure to separate taxpayer money from funding used for providing abortions, follow medical waste rules very closely, and properly report sexual assault cases in order to keep their funding.
South Carolina, also hoping to end abortion entirely, has officially banned the procedure for any woman past 19 weeks. Most women learn of their pregnancy by the time they reach 7 weeks. This means that elective abortions are often performed before 14 weeks with little to no complications. Typically, the women who find themselves needing an abortion at this point in the pregnancy, are not receiving elective abortions, they need the procedure due to problems with the health of the fetus or the health of the woman. While some women do choose to end their pregnancy at 19 weeks, most are doing so because of serious health issues. By making this option unavailable, South Carolina is taking away woman’s right to choose but also not allowing a woman to have a routine medical procedure done that would be in her best interest.
These are just a few of many instances where state legislature is attempting to override federal ruling and impose unnecessary restrictions on a woman’s right to abortion. Some states are even taking it as far as bills that prohibit abortion completely. While it is more than likely that some of these bills will not withstand due to their unconstitutionality, we must fight these lawmakers and insist on reproductive freedom.