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Later today, Nebraska lawmakers will likely vote on a 12-week abortion ban. Just a few days ago, the North Carolina legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass a 12-week abortion ban of their own. And leading anti-abortion groups are pressuring Republican presidential candidates to endorse a 15-week national ban at the minimum.

With abortion fully banned in 14 states, and given that North Carolina and Nebraska lawmakers rejected previous attempts to ban abortion earlier in pregnancy, many have been quick to label these 12-week bans as compromises or “wins” for abortion rights advocates. Anti-abortion groups claim to have found a “reasonable middle ground” between near-total or six-week abortion bans and the viability line previously established by Roe v. Wade, that is “compassionate” toward people who may need to seek abortion care.

That claim could not be further from the truth. A ban is a ban, whether it prohibits abortion after six, 12, or 15 weeks. Any ban that takes away a person’s ability to make their own medical decisions is unacceptable. We must protect everyone's fundamental freedom to control their own bodies, decisions, and lives. There is no “compromise” on fundamental rights.

The Charlotte Observer editorial board summed it up after the legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto: “People in North Carolina now have fewer rights than they did yesterday. They have fewer rights than their parents. And as much as Republicans want to call that ‘mainstream,’ it’s just not.”

And voters agree: by more than a two-to-one margin, new polling from NARAL Pro-Choice America found that voters reject the idea that 15-week bans are a “reasonable compromise.” Twelve-week bans —  like those in Nebraska and North Carolina — are even more dangerous and often intentionally make it as difficult as possible to get an abortion, even if patients seek care before this arbitrary cut-off.

As we saw with North Carolina’s new law, the strategy of abortion opponents is clear: First, put up unnecessary barriers that force pregnant people to delay care — such as medically-unnecessary and mandatory clinic visits, waiting periods, ultrasounds, and more. Then, ban abortion earlier and earlier in pregnancy to stop people from actually being able to get an abortion.  

Young people and people of color are most likely to realize they’re pregnant later in their first trimester; 12-week bans exacerbate existing inequalities in access to abortion care. At the same time, anti-abortion rights politicians are expanding funding for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, which often lie to patients, intentionally delaying their ability to access real medical care.

Remember that the true goal of the politicians behind these 12-week and 15-week abortion bans is to ban abortion outright. If they’re successful in passing 12-week bans, there’s no doubt their next move will be to try to ban access to abortion earlier and earlier in pregnancy. Look no further than Florida and Arizona, states that both passed 15-week bans last year. Since then, Florida lawmakers have gone on to pass a six-week ban that is not yet in effect. And in Arizona, anti-abortion rights politicians continue to push to reinstate the state’s 19th-century abortion ban. South Carolina lawmakers have gone back and forth on a total or six-week ban for months — unable to agree on how cruel to be toward pregnant people.

We can’t forget that both 12-week and 15-week bans are still very early in pregnancy. It’s far less than halfway through the typical 40-week pregnancy, and almost three months before the viability line of 24 weeks previously established by Roe. People in many different circumstances need access to abortion, and they must be able to make personal decisions that are best for themselves and their families — without political interference.

If you’re interested in learning more or have additional questions about abortion rights at the state level, please reach out to [email protected].



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