As Red States Push Strident Abortion Bans, Other Restrictions Suddenly Look Less Extreme

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Health

What is the ultimate goal of the anti-abortion movement? It might be surprising.

To the casual observer, the obvious answer is that abortion opponents want to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Before Roe, states decided whether and when abortion should be legal.

It’s possible opponents of abortion will see that wish granted. Based on comments made by six conservative justices during arguments, the high court this year is expected to either weaken significantly or throw out the nearly 50-year-old precedent of Roe by upholding a Mississippi law banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In the meantime, state legislatures are scrambling to prepare for that likelihood — either by shoring up laws protecting the procedure (in a few states), by proposing new restrictions, or by ensuring that pre-Roe bans or restrictions could be reinstated if and when the Supreme Court acts. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights think tank, 519 abortion restriction bills were introduced in 41 states from Jan. 1 through March 15, including 82 proposed abortion bans in 30 states.

Just last week, West Virginia’s governor signed a law banning abortion for reasons of fetal disability, and Idaho’s governor approved a bill that mirrors a Texas ban on abortion after six weeks. The Supreme Court has so far failed to block the Texas law, even though it clearly violates Roe, which, until the justices rule, remains binding precedent.

But it is important to remember that overturning Roe — and tossing abortion decisions back to individual states — is only a way station toward opponents’ ultimate destination: ending abortion entirely. “We would like to see every abortion gone, because we know that there are two people in every abortion choice,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, told K …

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