Legislative attempts to restrict reproductive rights are reaching historic highs. In 2021, over 90 abortion bans and restrictions have passed at the state and local levels, the most in one year in the Roe era -- and the year is far from over.
One of the factors causing this unprecedented volume of extreme abortion laws is the strong conservative majority on the Supreme Court. For many historically hostile state legislatures, the new 6-3 majority presents an opportunity to directly challenge the current judicial precedents largely established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In the past year, states, including Missouri and Texas, have passed bans on abortion at as early as 6 weeks gestation -- before many even know they’re pregnant. Under the current judicial precedent, these laws are flagrantly unconstitutional. However, we know the true goal of many legislators is to overturn Supreme Court precedent altogether.
The strategy of passing flagrantly unconstitutional abortion bans and appealing them up to the Supreme Court has been proven to be successful, with the Court agreeing to take up the Mississippi case. In this case, Mississippi is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the precedent established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This case is already in the spotlight, as the new 6-3 majority has the potential to issue a decision that could decimate Roe’s protections.
Overturning Roe would create large disparities in people’s access to necessary care based on location. 21 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion if Roe were overturned. Of those states, 10 have "trigger laws" that would ban abortion immediately if Roe were overturned.
The wide variation in laws across the country would lead to large disparities in who can receive care. For residents of states that outright ban or put harsh restrictions on abortion, access to essential care will come down to the ability to afford the time off from work and the cost of traveling to another state. These abortion bans and restrictions would exacerbate inequities in access to reproductive health care.
Here in New Hampshire, anti-abortion lawmakers were galvanized to introduce an array of extreme abortion bills this year. While many of these bills were blocked, Governor Sununu signed into law the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history. Governor Sununu’s law bans abortion at 24 weeks, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or fatal fetal diagnoses. This ban harms Granite Staters in complex circumstances.
With the current uncertainties regarding the constitutional right to abortion, it is important now more than ever that we support and elect reproductive rights champions. Abortion care is essential health care and we need to ensure that Granite Staters’ reproductive rights are not further encroached upon. This means electing reproductive rights champions at the national, state, and local level to protect people’s access to health care. The rise in abortion bans in the past year reveals the threats to reproductive rights under the current Supreme Court make-up. We must fight now more than ever to protect access to care.