Newly elected Republican legislators are gearing up for a new round of attacks on abortion rights
In the interest of brevity, I’m not going to force you to read all the pros and cons regarding abortion, there’s enough of that already going around. It’s an extremely important issue that the American public is severely divided upon, and likely no amount of persuasion attempts will change people’s minds and beliefs.
But, in the interest of justice and women’s reproductive rights, I am going to share some facts, both historical and current that seem to suggest that rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court aren’t necessarily the last word when it comes to these kinds of controversial issues. The Republican’s don’t seem to think so, anyway.
For years, the Supreme Court has been busy with case after case involving abortion rights, as have individual states in the Union. One of the most recent abortion rulings on a state-level was in 2014 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Arizona, when lawmakers were trying to forbid abortions before the viability of a fetus, despite the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. Fortunately, this ridiculous proposal met with firm opposition and was cast down. At least for now, that is.
This didn’t stop Arizona Republicans from trying another tactic, however. Arizona decided it should begin imposing severe restrictions on abortion medications. These medications are used by about half of all abortions performed in Arizona, and are safe, effective and inexpensive. The Supreme Court declined to hear arguments regarding these proposed restrictions, and this bill was also subsequently struck down.
Historically, until 1973, most U.S. states banned or restricted abortions. Many of the laws prior to that time were targeted at those who performed the abortions in order to “protect” the women.
The Supreme Court, however, in their landmark 7-2 decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) held that, “in regard to abortions during the first trimester, the decision must be left to the judgment of the pregnant woman’s doctor. In regard to second trimester pregnancies, states may promote their interests in the mother’s health by regulating abortion procedures related to the health of the mother.”
Not long after the Roe ruling, the Supreme Court overruled Georgia’s strict abortion law in Doe v. Bolton (1973) by stating that a woman could terminate her pregnancy when either her life or her health was in danger.
The Supreme Court has concluded that access to abortion is a fundamental right, and that only a “compelling state interest” could justify state laws or regulations that limit this right, yet time and time again since these rulings, U.S. states have been trying to find ways to limit abortions.
In 2010, Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks based on the ability of a fetus to feel pain. Eleven other states (AL, AZ, AR, GA, ID, IN, KS, LA, ND, OK, and TX) have followed their example banning abortions after 20 weeks without an adequate health exception. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated “no legitimate scientific information that supports the statement that a fetus experiences pain” but this hasn’t stopped this newest wave of governments taking away women’s rights.
According to the ProChoiceAmerica website:
- 20 states have unconstitutional and unenforceable procedure bans that could outlaw abortion as early as the 12th week of pregnancy, with no exception to protect a woman’s health: AL, AK, FL, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, MI, MS, NE, NJ, ND, OK, RI, SC, SD, TN, WV, WI.
- 9 states ban a safe abortion procedure with no health exception: AZ, AR, KS, LA, MI, MO, NH, UT, VA.
- 1 state bans a safe abortion procedure with only a narrow health exception: OH.
In early 2014, the House of Representatives passed several new abortion restrictions that dramatically reduced the number of health insurance plans that would cover abortions. The timing of these new restrictions was uncannily close to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Brace yourselves for an all out assault on abortion rights in 2015. A recent article in U.S. News is giving the American public a glimpse of what is yet to come in abortion battles as Republican’s are taking over once again. Republicans are taking the majority away from Democrats in 11 state chambers, and now hold two-thirds of legislative bodies. They completely control the legislature in 24 U.S. states.
Several (predominately Republican-led) states are gearing up with their newest anti-abortion proposals, including attacking targeting physicians, crisis centers, parents, ultrasounds, banning Planned Parenthood from providing education to public schools, additional 20-week bans and mandatory abortion seminars, along with several more restrictive and likely unconstitutional bills.
To conclude my shortest post here on Quiet Mike thus far, all I have to say to all of this are three things. What part of “access to abortion is a fundamental right” does the Republican Party not understand? Do you not realize there were five of your people on the Supreme Court in 1973 that made this ruling? Get a life and stop trying to take away all of our human rights.
[As an update, just days after writing this post, the Republicans have done it again. Specifically, Rep. Trent Franks re-introduced a bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks. HR 36 is known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The purpose? “To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect pain-capable unborn children, and for other purposes.” Another crock of you-know-what.]