This week, Alabama passed into law a near-total ban on abortion, sending shockwaves of disbelief around the world.
The law doesn’t make any exceptions for rape or incest, which means women in Alabama will only be able to access abortion if their lives are at risk. Doctors who perform the procedure in any other circumstances could face up to 99 years in jail ― that’s a harsher punishment than people face if they commit rape or incest in the state.
Twenty-five white men voted to pass the bill in the state Senate.
Now, abortion rights groups in the U.S. are steeling themselves for the biggest fight in the history of reproductive rights since Roe v. Wade.
“The lawmakers behind the Alabama ban have openly admitted that it’s unenforceable, and said they hope lawsuits against the bill will force the now conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its stance on abortion,” said Lydia O’Connor, who reported on Alabama’s decision this week for HuffPost U.S.
But Alabama is far from the only state where access to the procedure is under threat. “A stunning number of state lawmakers this year have also tried to pass abortion bans with similar consequences,” Lydia said. Several other states signed restrictive abortion laws this year, including some that outlaw it as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. And more state bills are hanging in the balance.
Three states in particular are doubling down on their efforts to attack abortion rights: Missouri, Louisiana and Michigan.
Missouri’s Unborn Act would ban abortion as soon as a doctor detects heart or brain activity – typically about six weeks into a pregnancy.
Louisiana’s Fetal Heartbeat Bill would effectively ban abortion at six weeks, and it has been moving quickly through the state legislature. It is now up for full House and Senate consideration.
“God values human life and so do the people of Louisiana. We believe this is an important step in dismantling the attack of the abortion cartel on our next generation,” state Sen. John Milkovich (D), the bill’s author, said earlier this month. “Life begins at conception, according to Scripture.”
Michigan on Tuesday passed its Late-Term Abortion And Dismemberment Abortion bill, which outlaws a type of abortion procedure commonly used during the second trimester: dilation and evacuation, in which a doctor dilates the patient’s cervix and removes the fetus with suction and medical tools like forceps.
But some states are fighting vehemently to protect women’s right to choose. Lawmakers in Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, Maine, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont have all proposed legislation to protect abortion rights even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Our bodies, our choice – from across the pond, I’ll be rooting for those activists fighting Alabama’s ban all the way to the Supreme Court.
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