In an accelerated effort to eliminate female bodily autonomy, six states have passed legislation of some variety heavily restricting access to abortions. Alabama passed the most aggressive of these bills, outright banning abortion. The other states, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio implemented so-called heartbeat bills that ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is found, somewhere between six to eight weeks into pregnancy.
For all intents and purposes, the heartbeat bills are included in the category of abortion bans, as there is hardly any evidence of pregnancy at that point, and many who are pregnant do not learn until after the point a fetal heartbeat first registers.
All the mentioned states provide bare-bones exceptions for allowing abortions. They include if the health of the mother is at risk, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape. Alabama once again takes the most dangerous approach, controversially not including the exceptions for rape or incest in its bill.
All of the aforementioned bills are signed, however abortion is still legal in all 50 states due to the continued adherence to Roe v. Wade at the national level. This means that many of these bills are already being challenged by lower courts. This will inevitably lead to bills finding their way all the way up to the supreme court, which very recently found itself with a conservative majority with the addition of Brett Kavanaugh.
As such, abortion advocates and political analysts are sure that many of the Republican state governments are hoping these cases find their way to the supreme court. If they did, it could mean an undermining of Roe v. Wade with a conservative majority. Some, like the Guttmacher Institute, are worried about the possibility of Roe v. Wade precedent completely overturning. This explains why the Alabama bill is so cartoonishly evil—they want the attention to carry the case all the way up, they want it to be challenged.
The effects of these temporary bills are already being felt. As of May 28, the last clinic in Missouri that provides the procedure is at risk of being forced to close at the end of the week. The future of the clinic hinges on the state of Missouri renewing its license. To renew its license, the clinic is being asked to gather all of its staff for interviews. Helene Krasnoff, head of litigation at Planned Parenthood, told journalists over a phone call the state “refused to discuss the scope of the interview,” a great concern considering the criminal penalties on anyone providing an abortion after eight weeks. Planned Parenthood is understandably unwilling to provide the state with what they want until they are promised that the interview would not include questions of abortion procedures.
If the Planned Parenthood clinic was forced to close, it would make Missouri the first state in nearly 50 years without access to abortion services.
The banning of abortions at any level is an attack against the autonomy of women’s bodies. In a civilized society, the availability of abortions should be a staple of every community. Common counterarguments never truly identify the core component of this debate—no matter why a woman might want or need to abort a pregnancy, they should have the ability to do so.