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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,970
May 23, 2019
Abortion Becoming Illegal
By Mike McManus

Abortion is becoming illegal - or nearly so - in eight states.

Alabama, Georgia and Ohio have passed laws that drastically restrict access to abortion. For example, Alabama passed the nation's most restrictive measure that bans abortion unless a woman's health is at "absolute risk."

If she were raped or the victim of incest, she could not get an abortion. Physicians giving an "illegal abortion" would face up to 99 years in prison.

When rape survivors told their stories to Alabama legislators, it was televised across America. Then the country "watched in horror as 25 male senators ignored them and passed a law that would ban all abortions, without exception for rape or incest" asserted Dr. Leana Wen, chief executive of Planned Parenthood.

The new restrictions in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, in as few as 6 weeks, when a woman may not yet have realized that she is pregnant. They are known as "heartbeat" laws. Utah's new law bans abortions after 18 weeks.

None of these laws have yet taken effect. They are being challenged by opponents who hope to defeat them in court. However, proponents of the restrictive laws dream they will be appealed to the Supreme Court where pro-life advocates hope to overturn the Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 - nearly a half century ago. That decision allows abortions until the baby could survive outside the womb, in the last trimester, from week 28-40.

"The heartbeat bill is the next incremental step in our strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade," says Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life after a version of the fetal heartbeat bill was signed into law in his state.

Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, adds, "What we're seeing this year is really unprecedented when we're talking about early abortion bans." She indicates that 21 states passed abortion restrictions in the first three months of 2019, the most important being the heartbeat laws.

"What we are seeing is the floodgates opening at the state level," she enthuses.

States have also passed legislation banning a certain method of abortion, known as dilation and evacuation, which is the most common procedure used after 14 weeks of pregnancy. In April, North Dakota became the latest state to enact such legislation and Ohio adopted a similar law late last year.

Some of these same states have also passed "trigger laws" that would take effect - banning abortion altogether - if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Among those states are Arkansas and Kentucky. Four states passed trigger laws over the past decade: Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota and North Dakota.

I believe these laws are too extreme that virtually ban abortion.

At an opposite extreme, New York is one of several states fortifying abortion access. In January New York enacted a law that removed abortion from the state's criminal code, stating that individuals who become pregnant have "the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion."

To put it more bluntly, New York is allowing the abortion of a child within days of delivery! Vermont passed a similar bill that gives women the freedom to abort a child over nine months of pregnancy.

New York and Vermont are legalizing infanticide! And it is a picture of what could happen in every state if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

In that decision, the Supreme Court legalized abortion - but only up to the second trimester of the pregnancy. It is a moderate measure which balances the right of the mother to have an abortion for 27 weeks after conception. But it prohibits killing a child who can survive outside the womb.

Roe v. Wade should be upheld by the Supreme Court.

What are the odds that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade? That may come down to the decision of the newest member of the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.

During his confirmation hearings, he was asked about the issue. He told Senators, "As a general proposition, I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade." He also told Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski that Roe is "settled law."

However, in a 2000 interview on CNN, after the Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska law banning dilation and evacuation abortions, Kavanaugh praised Justice Kennedy's dissent. That suggests Kavanaugh could support Roe.

I hope he affirms the Supreme Court's original decision, which strikes a balance between the woman who got pregnant - and the mother who could give life to her child.

__________________________

Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.com. Hit Search for any topic.

 

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