In an Open Letter, Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council Members Call for Halt to Recent Abortion Restrictions

April 2018

Recent bills have pursued arbitrary bans as early as six weeks and are attempting to set up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade

WASHINGTON, D.C. In response to a recent wave of bans on abortion introduced in states including Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio, 250 state legislators, all members of the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, have signed an open letter calling on their colleagues and fellow legislators, governors, and the courts to stop these abortion bans, protect women’s health, and respect their personal decision-making.

So far in 2018, at least 39 bills to ban abortion at different points in pregnancy, or even altogether, have been introduced in at least 19 states. Some of these bills, like those in Mississippi and Missouri, seek to ban abortion at arbitrary points in pregnancy, like 15 or 20 weeks, and some aim to ban abortion as early as six weeks or, in the case of Ohio, completely, even if a woman’s life is in danger. These abortion bans infringe on women’s autonomy and disregard the crucial notion that a woman’s health should guide important medical decisions – not politics. Moreover, the negative impact of abortion restrictions is often experienced most by women of color, rural women, low-income women, and young women.

Several of these bills are advancing — and are intended to be a direct challenge to a woman’s right to decide when or if to end a pregnancy as established in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. With the prospect of a more conservative Supreme Court in the coming years, conservatives are hoping one of these bills is the law that sparks a court challenge that goes all the way to the top.

The full letter can be found here.

Members of the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council also weighed in.

SiX Director of Reproductive Rights Kelly Baden:

“The hundreds of abortion restrictions that states have passed in the last several years were just a political strategy to build support for the goal they are clearly pursuing now: banning abortion altogether. We can’t and won’t stand by while some politicians try to make criminals out of the women who need an abortion and the doctors who provide care.”

Mississippi State Rep. Kathy Sykes:

“My concern is that as legal and safe abortion access is more and more difficult to obtain, women will be forced to go without care or take matters into their own hands, potentially resorting to dangerous methods. Legal abortion access is a fundamental right and must be ensured to protect women’s freedom, health, and safety.”

Ohio State Rep. Stephanie Howse:

“Introducing legislation to ban all abortions and completely remove the autonomy women have over their own bodies and their healthcare is misguided and dangerous. These divisive tactics are only a ploy to divide Ohioans and shift from the responsibility of creating real policies that enable women to have access to quality and affordable healthcare, send their children to equitably funded schools, and earn equal pay for equal work to take care their families.”