The NY Times reports, to the surprise of no one who has been paying attention, that all these new anti-abortion measures passed by states have made abortion much harder to get. Well they would, wouldn’t they.
A three-year surge in anti-abortion measures in more than half the states has altered the landscape for abortion access, with supporters and opponents agreeing that the new restrictions are shutting some clinics, threatening others and making it far more difficult in many regions to obtain the procedure.
Right. That was the idea, wasn’t it.
The new laws range from the seemingly petty to the profound. South Dakota said that weekends and holidays could not count as part of the existing 72-hour waiting period, meaning that in some circumstances women could be forced to wait six days between their first clinic visit and an abortion.
Ok that’s one I hadn’t heard of. Brilliant. So if a woman needing an abortion has the bad luck to be unable to get an appointment until the Friday before a holiday Monday, she has to wait until the following Friday.
Laws passed last year by Arkansas and North Dakota to ban abortions early in pregnancy, once a fetal heartbeat was detected, were hailed by some as landmarks if quickly rejected by federal courts. But bans on abortion at 20 weeks, also an apparent violation of constitutional doctrine, remain in force in nine states.
In Roe and later decisions, the Supreme Court said that women have a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb — at about 24 weeks of pregnancy with current technology — and that any state regulations must not place an “undue burden” on that right.
In 2013 alone, 22 states adopted 70 different restrictions, including late-abortion bans, doctor and clinic regulations, limits on medication abortions and bans on insurance coverage, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Well, you see, the meaning of the word “undue” has changed radically over the past 40 years. Also the word “24” and the word “right.”
A dozen states have barred most abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on a theory of fetal pain that has been rejected by major medical groups. Such laws violate the viability threshold and have been struck down in three states, but proponents hope the Supreme Court will be open to a new standard.
A partial test is expected this month, when the Supreme Court announces whether it will hear Arizona’s appeal to reinstate its 20-week ban, which was overturned by federal courts.
Many legal experts expect the court to decline the case, but this would not affect the status of similar laws in effect in Texas and elsewhere. Still, those on both sides are watching closely because if the court does take it, the basis of four decades of constitutional law on abortion could be upended.
And the laws and rules and shackles and burdens that keep women down could be made tighter and heavier.
The proliferation of state restrictions is recreating a legal patchwork.
“Increasingly, access to abortion depends on where you live,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the reproductive freedom project at the American Civil Liberties Union.
She added, “That’s what it was like pre-Roe.”
Backward. Marching marching marching backward.