The merry month of May has been disastrous for women’s rights to body autonomy and self-determination, but the worst is not over.
In the past 10 days, Georgia, Alabama, and now, Missouri have passed laws that severely restrict a woman’s right to an abortion, regardless of the need to protect the woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest.
On May 7, 2019, Georgia governor Brian P. Kemp signed its anti-abortion law that makes it almost impossible to acquire an abortion after eight weeks. Alabama followed suit on May 15th when Governor Kay Ivey signed House Bill 314, known as the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act”, creating the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the United States due to the fact that it nearly ends access to any kind of abortion in the state of Alabama.
Today, the Missouri House of Representatives passed House Bill 126, banning abortions after the eighth week, after recently passing a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period for those seeking an abortion.
With seven states now having “fetal heartbeat” laws that prohibit abortion if a heartbeat can be detected and over 250 proposed anti-abortion bills throughout the country, a woman’s right to body autonomy and self-determination is undeniably under fire. Planned Parenthood’s March 2019 Abortion Restriction Snapshot paints a dire picture for American girls and women:
- Six states are down to only one abortion provider in the entire state: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia;
- 62.5% increase in proposed bans on abortions at the six-week mark or later.
- Seven states have proposed legislation calling for a total ban to access to abortion: Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington.
This upswing in religiosity-based legislation contradicts the facts published in PerryUndem Research Communication’s January 2019 report that showed “73% of voters do not want Roe v. Wade overturned and 67% say abortion should be legal in ‘all’ or ‘most’ cases”.
Perhaps what is most disconcerting is that some of the governors signing these bills into law have stated that they know these laws are unconstitutional and/or cannot be enforced in their totality. Then why are they going to the trouble? For a body autonomy re-match before the Supreme Court.
While the average American citizen was recovering from reliving sexual traumas and gender discrimination via the collective #metoo and #timesup movements, pro-life Republicans have been busy setting the stage to challenge the pivotal 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade in the highest court in the land. Republican politicians admit these anti-abortion laws are unconstitutional and often unenforceable, and they have also correctly predicted that the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and other groups would challenge these laws’ legality.
Only one outcome is possible: Roe v. Wade will be challenged.
With the current makeup of the United States Supreme Court, a ruling in favor of women’s basic human right to body autonomy and self-determination cannot be assumed. Not even Notorious RBG can assure us women’s rights — and women’s lives — will be protected.
Stay tuned. With 250 proposed anti-abortion bills in the system, this fight for women’s rights is far from over.