In Defense of Choice As bans proliferate, alook inside the life-saving work of abortion funds.

AuthorThomhave, Kalena

The experiences, separated by two decades, as well as more income and stability on Irvin's part, were starkly different. Though there were protesters in front of the Ohio clinic back then, she was struck by how much more difficult it was seeking an abortion in the South, even in the early 2010s.

In the clinic that day, she remembers the women from Baton Rouge, a drive of about an hour and a half from New Orleans, worrying about their children at home. Because Louisiana has a required twenty-four-hour waiting period following the initial appointment (during which providers must complete an ultrasound, show the patient the picture, and provide counseling to discourage the abortion), the actual procedure would have to be done during a separate trip.

This contrast between Irvin's two abortions reflects a renewed anti-abortion political agenda that has, over the last decade, passed an onslaught of state restrictions. The effort continues: During the first months of 2019, the United States has seen a burst of extremist anti-abortion bills introduced in state legislatures. The new threats are unprecedented--so-called heartbeat laws that would ban abortion after an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, or roughly six weeks into gestation, just two weeks after a missed period and before many people even know they are pregnant.

Bills sharply restricting abortion access have passed in Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia, and been introduced in Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. In mid-May, Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion, with no exceptions for even rape and incest, followed shortly thereafter by an equally restrictive ban passed in Missouri.

Since the 2010 elections shifted control of most state legislatures to Republicans, attacks on abortion rights have become increasingly common. This has resulted in onerous restrictions on people, including waiting periods, mandatory counseling, and time limits, while also placing restrictions on abortion providers and clinics themselves. In the last eight years alone, more than 400 restrictions have been enacted by states, roughly one-third of all restrictions since Roe v. Wade affirmed in 1973 that access to safe and legal abortion is a Constitutional right.

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, says we're now seeing the most extreme legislation because "there is little left to do [other] than an all-out abortion ban." In addition to the heartbeat laws, which would act as de facto bans on abortion after six weeks, some states have also introduced legislation that would ban abortion entirely, defining life at the moment of conception.

The precedent set by Roe, of course, clearly holds these sorts of bans as unconstitutional (similar heartbeat laws passed in recent years in Arkansas, Iowa, and North Dakota were...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT