In an April open letter, over 250 state legislators called for halt to new state abortion restrictions attempting to set up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Iowa, a bill is now headed to the governor’s desk that would ban abortions as early as six weeks, before some women even realize they’re pregnant. If signed, it would be one of the most restrictive bans in the country. In South Carolina, the state Senate passed a bill this week to completely ban abortion unless the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest or in cases of medical emergency.
These two measures are just two of at least 39 bills to ban abortion at different points in pregnancy, or even altogether, that have been introduced in at least 19 states in 2018. Several of these bills 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.
In April 2018, in response to this recent wave of abortion bans introduced in Iowa, South Carolina and elsewhere, over 250 state legislators, all members of the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, 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. 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.
Three Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council members, Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom, South Carolina Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, and Mississippi Rep. Kathy Sykes, also penned a joint op-ed in Rewire in March expressing their resolve to fight back against these restrictions. The Mississippi governor signed an arbitrary 15-week abortion ban this year, which is facing a court challenge.
“Headline after headline accurately show the outrageous ongoing attacks on a woman’s ability to get the reproductive health care she needs. But the resistance isn’t just on the ground; scores of state legislators from around the country are speaking out and taking a stand in support of abortion rights and access,” said Kelly Baden, Director of Reproductive Rights at SiX. “These legislators know that passing bans on abortion literally in the middle of the night is the definition of poor governance. Women everywhere deserve better.”