Republican-led States Race to Abort Roe Vs. Wade

Since the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) demonstrated its monarchical authority over democracy again in December by failing to defend the landmark 1973 Roe versus Wade case that legalized abortion, right-wing states are racing against each other to seize the opportunity to ensure women are stripped of whatever autonomy they have left before the nation’s highest court makes its final decision this summer.

Last September, Texas passed the most draconian legislation of all up to that point when Gov. Greg Abbott signed S.B. 8, banning abortion at approximately six weeks of pregnancy, before many women are even aware they’re pregnant, and deputizing citizens to sue women contemplating abortions and those who aid in acquiring them.

Idaho followed suit last month but with the caveat that women who are victims of rapes or incest provide police reports to prove they’re eligible for abortions. Unlike the Texas law in which everyone retains the right to sue, only the family of a “pre-born child” can, empowering rapists’ families.

Missouri wants to go further and prohibit abortions even for ectopic pregnancies.

Not to be outdone, Tennessee wants to eliminate the six-week window.

This week, Florida passed a virtual total ban on abortion.

And Oklahoma this week passed legislation to imprison abortion providers up to 10 years after earlier this year considering creating a database to track those contemplating terminating their pregnancies.

To date, 23 states — nearly half the country — ban abortion.

This includes 18 states that want to prohibit abortion outright or ban it with limited exceptions, such as if the mother’s life is in jeopardy or she faces “irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

More than a dozen states in 2019 sought to outlaw abortion.

That was the year Alabama opened the proverbial flood gates after governor Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation that defines pregnancy beginning at the moment of conception and sends doctors who perform abortions for cases other than extreme risk to pregnant mothers’ lives off to face 99 years in prison, even in cases of rape and incest.

Shortly thereafter, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a similar bill banning abortion after six weeks, a point at which doctors can usually detect a fetal heartbeat, before most women even realize they are pregnant.

A month before, Ohio governor Mike DeWine signed a nearly identical bill.

With six right-wingers on the Court — three of whom are Trump appointees with questionable stances on Roe v. Wade — the so-called “religious” right might actually get what it has been fighting 40 years to achieve.

And it’s more than reproductive freedoms these pseudo Christians are after.

Well armed with lawyers, “the ‘dark money’ global empire of the U.S. Christian right” is perfectly positioned to reverse progress on abortion access.

But their efforts aren’t so much ideological as they are pecuniary.

An openDemocracy analysis reports anti-choice groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Federalist Society, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Heartbeat International have “been involved in recent efforts to limit reproductive rights in Europe and Latin America.”

Between 2016 and 2020, the National Christian Foundation (NCF) and Fidelity Charitable donated $93 million to anti-choice organizations.

Also in the dark money empire’s corner is Trump-appointed justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a well-funded group that has played the long game, expecting to have a high court justice like Barrett on the bench.

The question many are being forced to consider now is, what would a post-Roe America look like?

If the so-called “Christian” right gets its 40-year wish list fulfilled, does it believe abortions will end?

There has never been a time when women have not sought to end unwanted pregnancies.

Women have been receiving abortions for thousands of years, even when they were outlawed.

Women of means have always and will always be able to acquire them safely.

But the middle class, and especially the poor, do not necessarily have the resources to hop on planes for states with more liberal reproductive laws like New York, leaving women faced with dangerous choices.

Women like 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera from Texas, who was arrested for murder for allegedly causing the “death of an individual by self-induced abortion.”

Rio Grande City district attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez subsequently dismissed the case.

Women like Andona Perez, still fighting her 2017 jail sentence for “using drugs” after having a stillbirth.

Women like Bei Bei Shuai, who in 2011 was charged with murder after attempting suicide while pregnant.

Women like Purvi Patel, imprisoned for 20 years for having a miscarriage when then Indiana governor Mike Pence alleged she had taken an abortifacient — despite tests confirming Patel did not have drugs in her system.

Women like Melissa Ann Rowland of Utah, charged with murder after refusing to deliver her twins via Caesarean section.

One of those twins died.

Women like Rennie Gibbs, charged with “depraved heart murder” when her baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck, causing its death.

State prosecutors allege Gibbs had traces of cocaine in her bloodstream.

Women like Angela Carder, ordered to have a C-section before she succumbed to cancer.

Both she and the baby died during the procedure.

According to the Duke University Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, there have been over 413 documented cases of women prosecuted for miscarrying or attempting abortions between the when Roe v. Wade became the law in 1973 and 2005.

That number has climbed in the ensuing 16 years.

As Mother Jones recently reported:

“This all might seem tangential to what happened to [Lizelle] Herrera, but what’s important to understand is that doctors and medical staff are in many cases literally empowered by state law to intervene when they believe a pregnancy person has caused harm to their fetus. In other cases, like that of Purvi Patel, in which the physician who called the cops was a member of an anti-abortion group, doctors may feel personally obligated to report. And in yet other situations, medical staff may be outright confused about what their responsibilities are. That’s even more likely the case as anti-abortion laws are passed on a near-daily basis. Given the amount of fear that laws like Texas’s SB 8 have caused — doctors have voiced concerns about performing even emergency procedures like ending an ectopic pregnancy — healthcare providers may actually be afraid that they could be sued for not reporting a self-managed abortion.”

National Advocates for Pregnant Women deputy executive director, Dana Sussman, explained:

“The medical presentation for a miscarriage is indistinguishable from a self-managed abortion. Both will be and are suspect, particularly for communities already surveilled by police and the family policing system — and even more strikingly if someone has a history of drug use, or discloses drug use or any other behaviors that providers or police deem as posing a risk to the fetus.”

Is this version of Christian “Sharia Law” what we can expect in America’s future?

Republican-led states are in a contest to see which can get there there fastest.

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Ted Millar

Ted Millar

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Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal America and the Left Place blog on Substack: https://theleftplace.substack.com/.