This week, both Alabama and Missouri signed state abortion bans, following Georgia’s six-week ban which was signed last week. Other states like Ohio and Texas are currently considering their own version of the law, which would even outlaw devices like IUDs because they block egg implantation.
These bills are the latest attempt by the far right to chip away at Roe v. Wade, which enshrines in law access to safe abortion. Their goal is to eventually overturn this law that gives Americans control of their own bodies.
But it should be clear -- these bans are not bans on abortion, they’re bans on SAFE abortion.
A study from the Guttmacher Institute found countries with stricter abortion laws have higher rates of abortion. When women, transgender and non-binary people cannot access safe abortion care, they will find other, often dangerous, methods to end unintended pregnancies. Abortion care is safest when laws have been set up to protect access to abortion. The study also found abortion rates are at their lowest when birth control is free and readily available.
Alabama is aiming to ban abortion from the moment of conception, effectively outlawing abortion outright. It’s maybe the most dramatic and far-reaching ban so far, but every abortion ban is a transparent attack on health care access and civil rights.
Six-week bans are especially harmful because six weeks is usually too early in a pregnancy for a person to notice. Their period might be delayed or they might not have seen changes in their bodies yet signaling pregnancy. It also severely closes the window for receiving an abortion. A person seeking an abortion might need to take time off work, find childcare, travel, find housing in another city, secure funds for the procedure, and make a whole series of other decisions. In addition, they have to locate an abortion provider, something that’s becoming increasingly difficult in some states as legislators slam providers with restrictions.
Accessing abortion fundamentally comes down to financial stability and privilege. Even with bans, with money you can access care out of state (though even that can get you arrested in Georgia). Traveling out of state isn’t an option for everyone. The majority of those who will be affected by the abortion bans are working-class people of color. Black, Latinx, and Native American people experience poverty at more than twice the rate of their white counterparts, and may lack the financial resources or job flexibility to make make a trip to a health center, in or out of state. For the “crime” of being poor and pregnant, they could be sent to jail.
These abortion bans are an attack on the most vulnerable. They will replace a safe and legal medical procedure with dangerous and desperate back alley remedies. It’s a step back in time. We cannot be complacent in the face of such a clear attack on our rights. We have to vote these politicians out and make it clear to our leaders where they need to stand in this fight.
Here are a list of states that currently have or are considering six-week bans:
Mississippi enacted a six-week ban that is set to become law July 1, 2019, but is being challenged in court. Anti-abortion politicians did this just four months after a judge struck down a 15-week ban for “unequivocally” violating people’s constitutional rights.
Kentucky enacted a six-week ban, but within days a federal judge blocked it from taking effect.
Ohio has enacted a six-week ban; unless blocked by a court, the law will take effect in July 2019.
Georgia has enacted a six-week ban that would take effect, unless blocked by a court, in January 2020.