Blog of Rights

The Trend Continues: Abortion Debates Heat Up in Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin

By Louise Melling, Director, Center of Liberty; Deputy Legal Director, ACLU at 9:55am

Last week, we asked you to #standwithTXwomen as thousands convened in Austin, TX, to try to stop an extreme measure that could shut down nearly every clinic in the state. Following on the heels of the historic (and heroic) 13-hour filibuster by state Senator Wendy Davis, the outcry of support was amazing. Unfortunately, extremist politicians were not deterred and the fight continues this week as Texas lawmakers regroup to push through the dangerous measure. And Governor Perry polishes up his John Hancock.

I am sorry to report that we also need to prepare ourselves to #standwithNCwomen as a similarly far-reaching measure makes its way through the NC legislature. Today, we expect to see an outcry of support in Raleigh, NC, as extremist politicians there try to rush through a measure that could cut-off access in that state as well. If you live in North Carolina, you can lend your support here. The bills in Texas and North Carolina could pass as soon as this week.

Earlier yesterday, the Guttmacher Institute released its report on state level assaults on abortion rights showing that just six-months into 2013 we've already seen states adopting the second-highest number of abortion restrictions ever at the midyear mark.

Notably, politicians in Arkansas passed what was then the nation's most restrictive abortion ban at twelve weeks (overriding a gubernatorial veto), a week later, legislators in North Dakota one-upped them by banning abortion at six weeks – so early a woman might not even know she was pregnant. On the last day of June, the Governor of Ohio signed sweeping anti-abortion measures, buried in a long, technical budget bill. Then, just days later (and over the July 4th holiday weekend), Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that could force WI clinics to close.

As soon as Governor Walker signed the bill, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood were standing at the courthouse steps to challenge the law in court (and last night we got an emergency ruling that blocks the law until a judge can hear the legal arguments later this month). The ACLU has been at the forefront of the challenges to other extreme laws as well. We, along with Planned Parenthood, challenged an Alabama law that would have closed most of the abortion clinics in the state. In Arizona, with the Maricopa County NAACP, we challenged an Arizona law that required doctors to certify the reason for pregnancy termination has nothing to do with the race or sex of the fetus. And we challenged Arkansas' ban on abortion care after 12 weeks of pregnancy together with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

But we can't rely on the courts to stop these laws – we need to stop them before they become law. Add your voice now, and tell these extremist politicians we don't want them interfering with our medical care.

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