It’s open season on reproductive rights in the United States. Again.
Five different US states this week moved anti-abortion bills up the legislative food chain, in what seems to be yet another attack on women’s reproductive rights.
In Utah and Arkansas, bills banning abortion in the majority of cases after 18 weeks landed with state governors. If signed, they would be among the strictest abortion laws in the country.
That is, if you don’t look too closely at states like Ohio that are moving to pass so-called “heartbeat bills.” These bills would make most abortions illegal after a heartbeat can be heard, which could be as early as six weeks – before many women and girls would even know they were pregnant. On March 13, the bill passed Ohio’s state senate and is now expected to be approved by the House.
The current bill doesn’t make exceptions for pregnancies from rape or incest. For that reason it calls to mind the terrible case of an 11-year-old rape survivor forced to get a c-section in Argentina after authorities delayed her request for an abortion. International experts have argued that forcing women and girls to continue pregnancies from rape against their wishes can be akin to torture.
And we’re not done yet. In Kentucky, a bill disguised as ‘anti-discrimination’ legislation is also expected to be signed into law by the governor. It would ban abortions on the basis of race, gender, or disability status and is the first of many laws pending in the state aiming to limit access to abortion.
The Kentucky branch of the ACLU immediately announced it would be suing to block the bill, saying “the only person who decides whether you need an abortion should be you.”
Piling on, a group of conservative legislators in Kansas voted to pass a resolution condemning a New York law that assures women they will have their reproductive rights protected.
Restricting access to abortion does not stop abortion from happening – it just drives it underground and forces women and girls to risk their health and lives to end pregnancies clandestinely. Access to abortion is a human right and policymakers should vote against efforts to chip away at it.