On May 14, Alabama passed the strictest abortion laws in the country and clearly designed to challenge the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling The bill, which takes aims at doctors, makes performing an abortion a Class A felony. It comes on the heels of states like Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah also passing similar laws in an attempt to make abortion access near impossible.
Georgia’s bill, which focuses on punishing the pregnant party, would make abortions illegal after 6 weeks — quite literally two weeks after missing a period. There would be an exception in the case of a mother’s life being endangered by the pregnancy, and in cases of rape or incest before the 20-week mark, and only if a police report has been filed. Alabama’s legislation, on the other hand, only makes an exception in the event that the health of the mother is at risk, and if the fetus has what is described as “fatal anomalies” that would make living outside of the womb unlikely. Alabama’s bill does not make exceptions in cases of incest or rape.
These “heartbeat” bills have yet to take effect in their prospective states and will likely be challenged as unconstitutional. But, with two new conservative Supreme Court Justices appointed by President Donald Trump, Republicans are hopeful in the possibility of a reversal in Roe v. Wade. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have both made it clear that they will do everything in their power to challenge the new legislation. They also want women of these states to note that these laws haven’t been passed yet, and both abortion and birth control are still accessible in these states as of now.
The core of Roe v. Wade acknowledged privacy rights and the integrity of a woman to choose what to do with her body. Interestingly, with abortion being legal to- day, we are seeing the lowest rates of abortion that the U.S. government has on record. Indeed, thanks to sexual education and access to birth control, as well as legalized birth control, women have more choices and greater personal autonomy. All the while, abortion rates have declined 26 percent between 2006 and 2015, a point one would miss in the fundamentalist conservative talking points that seem to suggest abortion is a widespread horror.
Simply put, the government has no right to tell American women what to do with their bodies, per the most touted document in the U.S., the Constitution. If you are interested in helping the cause, feel free to donate to both the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, and join in the fighting for our rights.