Anti-Choice Politicians Are Taking Direct Aim at Roe v. Wade

House of Representatives chamber in the Ohio Statehouse

Anti-abortion politicians wasted no time going after Roe v. Wade after the midterm elections. Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a ban on abortion starting at six weeks in pregnancy, which would effectively ban almost all abortions given that most people don’t know they are even pregnant at that time. 

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is likely to pass. If it does, the outgoing governor could veto it, but the legislature may have enough votes to override it. And if the legislature doesn’t override the veto, the incoming governor has said he would sign it.

The bill is blatantly unconstitutional. If it passes, we will challenge it, and it will likely be blocked by the lower courts. But make no mistake: This bill is designed to directly challenge the fundamental constitutional right to abortion. As the bill’s author said, “We literally crafted this legislation to be the arrow in the heart of Roe v. Wade. It is made to come before the United States Supreme Court.”  

In other words, the bill’s supporters know this bill is unconstitutional, but they passed it anyway in hopes that it will make its way through the courts, eventually arriving at the Supreme Court.

Anti-abortion politicians at the state level are clearly emboldened by the Trump administration’s extreme anti-abortion and anti-woman policies. Just like Ohio, the Trump administration wasted no time to unleash more attacks on reproductive health care access after the midterms. 

The administration recently issued final rules rolling back the contraception coverage benefit of the Affordable Care Act. If those rules are not blocked by the courts, they would authorize nearly all employers to block insurance coverage for birth control because of the employers’ moral or religious beliefs. 

The same day, the Trump administration also proposed a rule that would create burdensome and unnecessary regulations designed to cause insurance companies in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace to stop covering abortion. This could push the procedure out of reach for many of the 1.3 million people who purchase plans through the government marketplaces and possibly more if insurers opt to drop coverage in additional plans. 

These policies build on the Trump administration’s other attacks. For example, the Trump administration adopted a policy of banning abortion for unaccompanied immigrant minors, which has fortunately been blocked by the courts in our #JusticeforJane case.

“We literally crafted this legislation to be the arrow in the heart of Roe v. Wade. It is made to come before the United States Supreme Court.”

It’s, therefore, no surprise that Ohio anti-abortion politicians followed in the Trump administration’s footsteps. And Ohio won’t be the only state to do so. Most legislatures come back into session in January, and we expect an onslaught of attacks on access to reproductive health care, on top of all the battles we are currently fighting. Since 2011, states have enacted more than 400 abortion restrictions. There are already more than a dozen challenges to abortion restrictions winding their way up to the Supreme Court. The question now is this: What will the Supreme Court do?

No one can predict the future, but we are deeply concerned that Roe v. Wade and the right to access abortion is in peril given the recent changes in the Supreme Court. And it is not just whether Roe will be overturned — Roe could be eviscerated without being technically reversed. But that would have the same effect for many people. 

For example, a state could pass a law that has no medical justification but could be upheld even if it shutters clinic doors. This is not hypothetical. Right now there are six states that have one abortion clinic standing, and anti-abortion politicians in some of those states are trying to shut them down. For example, in Kentucky, Gov. Matthew Bevin tried to shut down the last clinic by revoking its license for failure to have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. We prevented the clinic’s closure by going to court, and the judge ruled in our favor in September. The governor, however, has appealed. 

Low-income people, people who live in rural areas, and young people will suffer the greatest when clinics are forced to close. Abortion will be pushed out of reach with devastating consequences to their lives, including spending years in poverty or being tethered to abusive partners. It means nothing if the right to abortion exists on paper but people have nowhere to go to get one.

The alarm bells should be ringing. It was heartening to see the Ohio House packed with people protesting the passage of the abortion ban. But the anti-abortion forces are definitely out in full force, including passing ballot measures in Alabama and West Virginia removing protections for abortion at the state level. Those of us who want to see the right to access abortion protected must stand up. We are at a critical moment in history, and now is the time for your voice to be heard.

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Donna M. Shimko

Abortion is NOT murder - you are showing your appalling, right-wing medaeval ignorance by proclaiming such garbage. Abortion is the termination of a foetus which is scientifically unable to survive. 'Innocent babies' are not aborted or 'sacrificed' as you so inflammatorily put it.
You are clearly cruel, selfish in expecting others to think and behave as you would, and unwilling to put yourself in another's place.
ALL WOMEN DESERVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE THEIR OWN REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES.

(P.S. Your lack of reproductive knowledge is as appalling as your inability to communicate properly.)

Anonymous

OH BROTHER! Pro choice in no way equates to not wanting children! Its about controlling when or if. It's not up to you or the government to decide for other women. If you're so pro life then GET ONE!

Anonymous

Can you please tell me how it is better to be forced into childbirth? Do you understand how high the maternal mortality rate is? It's one thing to risk your life willingly to have a child, but to be forced? That is oppression. Its subjagation. Some women just don't like kids. It's not selfish to not want to be a mother. And if you aren't financially able to support a child, it's not terribly responsible to have one, though I realize sometimes it happens that way. Your views are outdated and frankly, they're insulting. Women are so much more than brood mares. We deserve choices in life.

Anonymous

Women seek abortions for many reasons: they are poor and can't feed the ones they have, they were raped, they suffered incest, their spouse or partner wouldn't give the woman time to get her diaphragm, foam, contraceptive stuff ready, wouldn't use a condom. Sometimes they have medical conditions which are made so much worse by a pregnancy that they risk losing their lives and then who takes care of the children they already have? You are making a huge assumption that all women who seek abortions wish to remain childless so they can be happy and successful. Women who seek abortions are desperate: it is not a decision which is reached lightly. They need to have a way to feel safe in a clean medical environment when they make this difficult decision.; for this to happen abortion must remain legal and available.

Anonymous

"But make no mistake: This bill is designed to directly challenge the fundamental constitutional right to abortion."????????

Anonymous

Like Brexit, we should have a national referandum question, yes or no, should women only decide on all reproductive issues, when, how, where, why and how much and who pays, etc. Legislation would then follow if the vote was yes. Men would wash their hands of the whole debate, it would be the only gender specific political, moral issue. If the evangelic men get angry, one could argue that women are God's last creation and are therefore a superior model, after all, they have a built-in reproductive system.

Anonymous

People only care about babies until they are born. Sad.

Anonymous

We need to get women’s reproduction issues out of government. My body my choice. Anti-abortionist make promises they can’t keep. They stand behind their religion only to judge the women having an abortion. DON’T JUDGE it’s in the Bible. It’s not your battle.

Makaylah

When it comes to abortion, the only person that has the right to tell a woman what she can and can't do with her body is herself. The government shouldn't be the ones choosing what women do with their bodies. If a woman wants to get an abortion because of the circumstances she's in, then why should anyone take it away from her? Making these new laws about abortion goes against everything woman have fought for.

Pro Life is Pro Lie

I wish the Ohio anti choicers luck with this. The same crap legislation was just blocked by a federal judge when Mississippi tried the same nonsense. If only pro life meant pro LIFE rather than just pro fetus.

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