The Alabama abortion ban and the spate of draconian “heartbeat” laws are vicious attacks on reproductive rights. We have to fight back with an unequivocal demand: free abortion on demand.
Mothers’ Day came this year with a cruel twist of fate. In recent weeks, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippihave all voted to ban abortion six weeks after a pregnant person’s last menstrual period. The draconian laws are known as “heartbeat bills” because six weeks is supposedly when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Alabama dropped even the six-week pretense, voting yesterday to bar abortion entirely except in cases of a threat to a pregnant person’s life or a lethal fetal anomaly. Either way, each of the bills effectively prohibits abortion, since most women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks.
The laws also criminalize third parties, like doctors, who perform surgical abortion procedures or who prescribe medication abortions. The goal is to spark legal challenges in lower courts that would eventually culminate in a Supreme Court case reconsidering Roe v. Wade (1973).
The spate of new laws has unleashed a flurry of legal speculation: Will the legislation criminalize pregnant people who induce their own abortions or who miscarry? Will it only criminalize third parties? Is there enough disagreement among lower courts that the Supreme Court will hear the cases once they are challenged?
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