Serving as further evidence that anti-choice lawmakers across the nation, both in state legislatures and Congress, have been emboldened by the election of a presidential administration vocally hostile towards reproductive rights, over the past week total abortion bans have been proposed in three state and federal legislatures.
It may be that these proposals in themselves are not overly concerning; being so blatantly unconstitutional, there is essentially zero chance that they will be passed.
Rewire reported on how Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is preparing to introduce a bill mirroring the “heartbeat bill” that passed in Ohio’s state legislature last month, only to be vetoed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (who went on to sign off on a more moderate but still unconstitutional 20-week ban). The bill would ban abortion after the sixth week, and since this is before many women even realize they are pregnant and are thus unable to act before this point, it would serve to essentially ban abortion for women across the country.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Texas state representative Tony Tinderholt filed HB 948, the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, which is exactly what it sounds like.
While the law specifically recognizes the unborn no matter what stage gestation as a person with rights, paradoxically, it stops short of describing how those who have abortions will be punished, considering under Texas law they would, technically, be committing murder. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is a staunch abortion foe who previously signed off on a bill to require women to pay $2,000 to bury or cremate aborted fetuses, and it is entirely possible he’d sign off on HB 948 should it reach his desk. However, the federal court would likely strike the law down should it come to this.
In the state of Indiana, similar legislation is being proposed to sweepingly criminalize abortion with the “intention of [stopping] the killing of humans after they are alive.” If by some horrifying miracle the law passes and is signed off on by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, it would become effective on July 1.
Say it with me: you can never ban abortion, you can only ban safe abortions.
— Jess Tholmer (@tholmz) January 13, 2017
Despite strong opposition to abortion from the majority of Republican lawmakers, most accept it as the law of the land and respect the decisions of the Supreme Court. The real threats to access to abortion come from moderate restrictions that infringe on individual guarantees of Roe v. Wade rather than overturn Roe as a whole. Many must also understand, at least on some level, that criminalizing abortion will not stop it from happening as history and other more oppressive governments around the globe have shown, and only serves to make the procedure more dangerous for women. Investing in contraception, healthcare, and sexual health education are far more pragmatic means to preventing abortion if that is the true goal of Republican lawmakers, as opposed to merely shaming women.
For example, there are 20-week and second trimester abortion bans that infringe on women’s right to abortion until fetal viability; the Hyde Amendment, which essentially denies poor women abortions by denying them financial assistance for the procedure from the federal government; TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws that shut down clinics and place an undue burden on the women seeking them; and on top of all of that, waiting periods and lack of funding for the family planning services that prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions as a whole.
Due to the success of these more specific regulations in states across the country, perhaps they’re what reproductive rights advocates should really be worried about.