More states are enacting controversial abortion bans – here’s why

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Pro-choice protesters march past the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 in Austin, TX.

Sergio Flores for the Washington Post via Getty Pro-choice protesters march past the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, September 1 in Austin, Texas.

In 2021 alone, a record 106 restrictions on abortions became law in the United States This is the most since the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, which guaranteed the right to abortion, was decided in 1973.

In recent years, states that attempted to pass anti-abortion legislation knew it would be overturned by state and federal courts following the precedent set by Roe vs. Wade. But now, with the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in October 2020, she has firmly established a Conservative majority and the possibility that Roe vs. Wade could be knocked down.

“We have entered a new, more restrictive phase in 2021 because we now have a strongly anti-abortion Supreme Court,” Elizabeth Nash, state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research group focused on abortion rights, tells PEOPLE. “It really signaled to state lawmakers that more restrictions and even bans on abortion could potentially come into effect, and we started to see state lawmakers moving in that direction by enacting early bans on abortion. abortion.”

The change in the composition of the tribunal is what led to Texas bans abortions after six weeks pregnant – before most people know they are pregnant – and why it was confirmed after the Supreme Court was asked by abortion rights groups to prevent the ban from going into effect.

There was already had an increase in abortion bans in 2019, after Conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch joined the Court, but “while there was momentum behind these, there was a bit more uncertainty” about how the Court would decide on laws. “Now that uncertainty is gone,” says Nash. “It is obvious that the Supreme Court does not support the right to abortion. And now we are waiting to see how far they will go.”

Supreme Court judges

Supreme Court judges

Erin Schaff-Pool / Getty

On December 1, the Supreme Court will hear its first case on one of these abortion bans since the Conservative majority was established when it hear arguments over Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which goes against the 25 weeks guaranteed by Roe vs. Wade.

“There are nearly 50 years of precedent upholding abortion rights by the court. And whether or not the court will ignore all of these court cases is still a bit uncertain,” Nash said. “They have a number of things they can do, from ordering states that more restrictions are allowed to maintaining the 15-week ban to rescinding Roe entirely.”

RELATED: Abortion rights activists lead more than 650 marches across US to protest restrictive bans

And even though Roe isn’t completely bowled over with the Mississippi case, they have the option of doing so along with a number of other challenges to abortion rights stemming from state bans in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and others.

Nash expects the decision “to be very complicated,” and the outcome of which Americans won’t know until the Supreme Court’s term expires in June 2022.

“I don’t really venture to guess what the court will do except to say that it appears abortion rights are in serious jeopardy given the makeup of the court.”

RELATED VIDEO: “I pray for all… who will suffer”: Many stars outraged by Alabama’s abortion ban

Yes Roe deer is canceled, “so I would expect within a fairly short period of time we would start to see states, especially the South, Plains and Midwest, seek to pass abortion bans,” Nash said.

“And that would make it very difficult for a large percentage of women in the country to access abortion care in their own state. This means that many more people would have to travel for treatment. And those most affected by it. these abortion restrictions and bans are people of color, low-income people, youth and LGBTQ people. People who are already burdened with insufficient access to health care. “

Bans in any state push people into unwanted pregnancies or seek out ways to get an abortion out of state.

“A typical abortion costs around $ 550,” says Nash. “If you have to travel any distance, you start to think about the costs of gas, hotel, travel, childcare and free time. And those costs increase dramatically the longer you have to be away from home, the further you have to go. “

And even if they are stopped, any ban, however short, has an impact.

“Once abortion is banned in a state, it becomes very difficult if the ban is lifted to rebuild the network of abortion clinics and for people to understand that abortion is then legal again,” said Nash said. “Even though it only lasts a few weeks before it gets stuck, there is already a lot of damage that has already been done.”

There are efforts to maintain the right to abortion, even if Roe deer is knocked down. Many states such as New York, Hawaii, California, and Washington have statutory protections for abortion rights in their laws. And with the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government supporting abortion rights, plans are underway to end the Texas ban and create legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill currently in Congress that would prevent abortion bans and other restrictions.

RELATED: House passes law to protect abortion rights amid legal challenges to Texas ban

“What we need to see is that more of these progressive legislatures step up to provide these legal protections and provide resources to ensure that abortion is accessible – whether it is funding or of an expansion of who can provide abortions, or of facilitating access to abortion care, “says Nash. “It’s important to get involved with your state’s legislature, as well as supporting state and local abortion funds. Showing solidarity, putting your money where your mouth is and making your voice heard is the best way to protect the right to abortion. “


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