It has been a bad week for abortion proponents and it just keeps
getting worse. After Georgia passed its heartbeat bill last week, Alabama followed with an even more restrictive bill that was signed into law on
Wednesday. Now it seems that more states are poised to follow in passing bills
that severely limit abortions within their borders.
The Associated Press reports that the Missouri Senate approved a bill by a 24-10 vote that would ban
abortions after eight weeks. The bill contains exceptions for medical
emergencies but not for cases of rape or incest. The bill must now be approved
by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans, before it
can be signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican.
Another state, Louisiana, is also considering a heartbeat
bill that would ban abortions on unborn babies old enough to have a detectable
heartbeat. The Louisiana bill contains exceptions to prevent the mother’s death,
if there is “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a
major bodily function,” or if the pregnancy is deemed “medically futile,” but
also omits exceptions for rape and incest per the AP. The bill has
been approved by House and Senate committees but has not yet been voted on by
While much of the recent abortion debate is centered on the
lack of exceptions for rape and incest, the Guttmacher
Institute found that abortions are rarely performed for those reasons. In a
large study that ranged from 1987 through 2004, only one percent of abortions
were due to rape and less than half a percent were due to incest.
In addition to Georgia and Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio have also passed new laws aimed at reducing the number of abortions. The laws are designed to test the Supreme Court’s adherence to the Roe v. Wade precedent in the wake of the addition of two new Trump-appointed justices, Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. It is likely that the Court will strike down portions of the laws, if not rule them entirely unconstitutional, but any definitive ruling would let legislators know how far they can go in regulating abortion in their states.
Regardless of the uproar, the laws have strong support among
Republicans who control the state legislatures in these states. With the
failure of the national GOP to defund Planned Parenthood and two new friendly
justices on the Supreme Court, pro-life advocates hope that the tide may
finally be about to turn.