State governor of Mississippi Phil Bryant recently said that he wants the state to be “the safest place in America for an unborn child.” What this really means is that he wants the state to be the most restrictive place for women to live. Mississippi already has the earliest gestational restriction on abortions in the country. Now they want to decrease their 20-week limit to 15 weeks. It doesn’t stop there. The ban would also make zero exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Not only does this violate their rights, but also the potential psychological damage that could result from this is astronomical.
The bill still needs to go through the house but watching other states move forward with increasingly more restrictive abortion laws is alarming. There is already only one abortion clinic in all of Mississippi, and throughout the country states are profoundly lacking abortion services. With President Trump vowing to continue to move forward with restricting abortion, and even saying during his campaign that he would punish women that get abortions, abortions being less and less accessible is certainly a possibility. Bryant is promising that as soon as the bill goes through the house for secondary approval he will sign it into law. The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi is ready to fight with a legal challenge if necessary but is also concerned about republicans trying to increase the number of conservative judges in the Supreme Court.
Another problem with this change is that sometimes prenatal testing is not done until after 15 weeks gestational age. So, while abortion may be allowed for women who’s lives are at risk, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality, many women who do not have the resources to care for a child with disabilities, may be left no other option. This can put women and already struggling families in an even more impossible situation. With Trump putting in place the “global gag rule” in 2017 thereby preventing federal funding from reaching impoverished women over seas to provide abortion services, we can be sure that his efforts to restrict abortion will continue to impact women not just globally, but here in the U.S. as well.
It’s not just the South that’s at risk. Abortion clinics have been closing pretty regularly throughout the country over the past couple years. Pennsylvania bans Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act from covering abortions which means that poorer women may have to pay out of pocket or not receive an abortion at all, making them disproportionately negatively affected by abortion restrictions. Women in the state of Pennsylvania who have made the choice to have an abortion and met with a physician are then required to wait for 24 hours before going forward with the procedure. This can result in even more barriers to abortion care. With abortion clinics be far and few between, getting to and from said clinics can be a challenge for women, especially those who fall into marginalized populations. These laws are simply another way for conservatives to prevent women from accessing care that they have a right to have.