The New Abortion Bills Are a Dare

May 15, 2019 by

by Emma Green, The Atlantic:

State legislators in Alabama and Georgia know that abortion bans will likely be overturned in lower courts. They are aiming higher.

Late Tuesday night, Alabama legislators passed a bill that would outlaw abortion at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy. They’re in good company: Earlier in May, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a law making abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or roughly six weeks after conception. Ohio, Mississippi, and Kentucky have all passed similar bills this year.The state legislators who are passing these bills know they will be challenged in court. They also know they will probably lose. But their sights appear to be set higher than their state jurisdictions: With a solidly conservative majority on the Supreme Court, anti-abortion advocates are eager to seed the challenge that could one day take down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 opinion that legalized abortion up to the point of fetal viability. At the very least, they hope the Supreme Court will undercut Roe and subsequent decisions that reaffirmed abortion rights, the idea being that each legal challenge makes it a little harder to obtain an abortion in the United States.

With the political and legal landscape finally tilting in their favor, anti-abortion legislators feel empowered to move beyond abortion restrictions and take a shot at full bans. One day, they believe, this legislation won’t just be politically symbolic—they hope abortion will become illegal across the country.

Alabama’s bill goes significantly further than other recent ones we’ve seen at the state level. The bill holds doctors criminally liable for performing abortions at any point in pregnancy. If Governor Kay Ivey signs the bill into law, completed abortions would be considered a Class A felony, and attempted abortions would be a Class B felony. The legislation provides exceptions for abortions in the case of a “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother” and in cases where “the unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” It does not, however, provide an exception for instances of rape or incest, although multiple amendments proposed that addition; legislators apparently wanted to pass a “clean” bill to send to the Supreme Court. Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion services in the United States, is calling the bill “the most extreme abortion ban since Roe v. Wade” was decided.Read here


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