Deluge of bills aimed at restricting abortion access introduced in 44 states

Deluge of bills aimed at restricting abortion access introduced in 44 states
Image via Screengrab.

Every legislative cycle anti-abortion advocates file an excessive number of bills across the country aimed at restricting abortion access with the ultimate goal of ending it altogether. But this legislative cycle is already proving to be far more fraught than in years past.

Enthused by the addition of religious ideologue Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists have introduced over 500 bills nationwide this cycle designed to curtail abortion access, according to NBC News. A new report from Planned Parenthood found that represented a marked increase of 200 bills over the some 300 measures introduced around this time in 2019.

"This legislative season is shaping up to be one of the most hostile in recent history for reproductive health and rights," Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, told NBC. "These abortion restrictions are about power and control over our bodies."

Ralph Reed, founder and chair of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, called the effort "very bold and unapologetic," adding, "The ultimate goal of the pro-life movement is to see Roe v. Wade overturned."

At this point in 2019, just one anti-abortion bill had cleared a state legislature. But already this year, 12 anti-abortion measures have been signed into law in six states. The first, SB 1 in South Carolina, bans most abortions except in cases of rape or incest or where a person's life is in danger. Doctors must perform an ultrasound to determine if there's cardiac activity and, if so, an abortion is banned except in the exempted instances.

The South Carolina law is on hold for now after the abortion-rights group the Center for Reproductive Rights sued to prevent it from taking effect. Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the group, says the nature of the laws themselves have also changed alongside the pace of the legislation.

"We used to see more backhanded laws that forced clinics to shut down through impossible regulations," Northrup said, "but now politicians have dropped the smokescreen and are very open about their goal of banning abortion," she said.

The implication seems clear: Now that anti-abortion activists have a dependable sixth vote on the Supreme Court, there's no reason for them to veil their intentions anymore with obscured attempts at chipping away at Roe v. Wade over time. After meticulously following that strategy for decades, anti-abortion groups now plan to broadside the law in plain sight because the justices who will be deciding the matter no longer require the pretense.

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