Anti-abortion lawmakers push for more restrictions with Roe gone

Placeholder while loading article actions

On the heels of their biggest victory, anti-abortion activists are eager to capitalize on their momentum by enshrining constitutional bans on abortion, pushing Congress to pass a nationwide ban, blocking abortion pills and limiting the ability of people to get abortions from state to state.

At the National Association of Christian Legislators conference in Branson, Mo., on Friday, several dozen state legislators from across the country brainstormed ideas — all agreeing that their hugely successful movement won’t would not end with Roe vs. Wade.

“It’s not over,” said Oklahoma State Rep. Todd Russ (R), who attended the conference. At this point, Russ said, ideas are like “popcorn in a popcorn.”

“There are all kinds floating around.”

The Supreme Court’s decision has already transformed America, immediately ending abortion care in eight states, and many more states are set to ban the procedure in the weeks and months to come. By the end of the year, abortion could be banned in about half the country. Former Vice President Mike Pence and other GOP leaders have called for a nationwide ban.

Democratic-led states are scrambling to enshrine abortion protections, and President Biden has pledged to do everything in his power ‘to protect the rights of women in states where they will face the consequences’ . But Biden also has excluded the most extreme remedieslike expanding the Supreme Court, and leading Democrats remain opposed to ending the Senate’s filibuster to protect abortion rights.

Given these limited options in a post-roe deer In the United States, anti-abortion lawmakers are pushing to enact more restrictive abortion bans in their states.

Just moments after the Supreme Court released its ruling on Friday, Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini (R) wrote to Governor Ron DeSantis, urging the Republican to call a special session that would allow the legislature to pass a six-week abortion ban.

The 15-week ban DeSantis enacted in April, which allows more than 90% of abortions to continue, doesn’t go far enough, Sabatini said.

“The problem isn’t the governor…it’s the cowards in the Republican legislature who blocked [the six-week ban]”, said Sabatini. Now that roe deer fell, he added, he hopes the governor and legislature will “respond to the pressure.” (A DeSantis spokesperson pointed to the governor’s statement on Friday pledging to “extend pro-life protections. “)

Although most legislative sessions have been adjourned for the year, several state governors have indicated interest in calling special sessions to pass additional anti-abortion legislation. Republican Gov. Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota announced a session immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling, despite her state already having a “trigger ban.”

The Republican governors of Indiana and Nebraska had also expressed interest in meet to pass additional anti-abortion legislation if the Supreme Court overturns roe deer.

Other lawmakers are more concerned with protecting the restrictions they already have on the books.

In Missouri, where abortion was banned almost immediately after the ruling, state Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman (right) fears the state Supreme Court will find protections for abortion in the Constitution of Missouri, as have other state courts across the country. these last years. On abortion-related issues, Coleman said, state courts are out of step with the legislature, with a history of blocking legislation to fund Planned Parenthood facilities.

Right now, Coleman said, his priority is to pass a constitutional amendment — through a statewide referendum — that clarifies that there is no right to abortion in Missouri.

Coleman is also keen to restrict abortion across state lines, an idea she surfaced in legislation earlier this year and is now being discussed by anti-abortion lawmakers across the country. The issue is particularly relevant in Coleman’s home state of Missouri, where even before roe deer fell, thousands of people crossed the Missouri-Illinois border every year to get abortions.

Coleman’s bill, which failed to pass the 2022 legislative session, would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident access out-of-state abortion, using the new legal strategy behind the Texas abortion ban, which allows private citizens to enforce the law. through civil litigation.

Kristan Hawkins, president of the national anti-abortion organization Students for Life, said she’s in talks with lawmakers in Missouri and plans to bring a similar idea to a conference she’s hosting in DC this weekend, where more than 200 anti-abortion leaders will meet to discuss of their post-roe deer plans.

“I think we can say, ‘Look, if you’re traveling out of state for an abortion, that abortionist can be held liable,'” Hawkins said.

Russ of Oklahoma wants to crack down on any companies that have voiced support for abortion rights, offering to pay for their employees to access the procedure out of state.

JPMorgan, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon and many others have recently announced new benefits to help employees access abortion services. “We’re making this decision so our teammates can access the same healthcare options no matter where they live and choose what’s best for them,” said Lauren Hobart, President and CEO of Dick’s. Sporting Goods, in a statement.

While Republicans are generally reluctant to impose restrictions on private companies, Russ said, an exception should be made in this case.

“If someone was driving the getaway car in a bank robbery…that’s a very, very serious crime,” he said.

At this week’s conference in Branson, he said, he and his anti-abortion colleagues discussed potential legislation to stop corporations from funding abortions.

For Russ and other anti-abortion lawmakers, limiting access to abortion pills is another major concern. Aid Access, an Austrian organization run by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts, sends abortion pills to all 50 states, including more than a dozen states that have banned abortion through the mail. Their orders from Texas increase by more than 1,000% when the state enacted its six-week ban.

Now that roe deer has been reversed, the demand for abortion pills online is expected to skyrocket.

“There’s definitely a way to crack down on that,” Russ said, noting that all abortion bans include a ban on abortion pills. “The question is, is there a way to enforce it?”

National anti-abortion advocates have discussed the issue at length, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a national anti-abortion organization. But she has yet to hear perfect solutions.

Going forward, Dannenfelser says her top priority is to help women with unwanted pregnancies get the help and support they need, plans that include increased funding for pregnancy centers in crisis, anti-abortion organizations often affiliated with religion.

The gold standard, she said, is Texas, where lawmakers secured $100 million in public funding for crisis pregnancy centers in the 2021 legislative session, a sum larger than any other state of the country.

Dannenfelser said she has discussed these ideas with 22 governors across the country, all of whom have been receptive to her suggestions. “We want to meet her needs at a time when she really needs them,” Dannenfelser said.

“They want a holistic approach to their life, so they are masters of their destiny.”

Abortion rights advocates see crisis pregnancy centers differently — as misleading clinics that they say offer incorrect health information that can harm women who seek care there.

At the National Association of Christian Legislators conference on Friday, lawmakers suspended programming whenever a new state announced an end to legal abortion.

Missouri “jumped out the door first,” less than an hour after the decision, said Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who led the conference.

He noted the exact time the attorney general made the announcement in Arkansas. 2:17 p.m.

Still, Rapert said he couldn’t help but think of all the other states where abortion would still be legal.

“You must abolish abortion nationwide just as you abolished slavery nationwide,” he said.

As the day progressed, Russ said, lawmakers discussed how the roe deer decision could affect other “conservative family battles” that have been decided by the Supreme Court, including Oberfell v. Hodges, the case that granted a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The court’s decision on abortion, he added, could serve to shed light on “how much else the Supreme Court has crammed down states’ throats over the past 50 years.”

He left the conference feeling optimistic about this new era in American history, he said.

“Now maybe we can get back to all the rights of our states.”

Comments are closed.