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The Future of Abortion and Legislation That Challenges It

It’s what liberals feared and conservatives hoped for when Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in the Supreme Court. Abortion is going to be challenged. Most recently, laws in Mississippi and West Virginia have been modeled after in North Dakota’s newest abortion bill.

North Dakota’s Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation on Wednesday criminalizing doctors to perform second-trimester abortion, while Georgia and Ohio’s legislature which has submitted an approved ban criminalizing doctors from performing an abortion if a heartbeat is detected. Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio is expected to sign.

During the second semester of pregnancy, a pregnant woman would be unaware of her condition, and the statement made by the Georgia legislature that a fetal heartbeat means life would change abortion.

Abortion is defined legally as the termination of pregnancy by various methods before the fetus is able to sustain independent life.  Legally, the state cannot bar a woman from receiving an abortion by a licensed physician the first trimester, the state can regulate the abortion procedure to better the woman’s health in the second trimester, and in the third trimester, the state may protect fetal health but not if a woman’s health is endangered.

Yet the legislation titled HB 1546 outlaws the second-trimester abortion method known medically as dilation and evacuation, but which the legislation calls human dismemberment.

Legislation like HB 1546 is implemented in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Texas but is on hold due to litigation.

Kentucky’s heartbeat legislation has been blocked by a federal judge, abortion rights lawyers are seeking an injunction in Mississippi, however federal courts like the 5th Circuit which covers Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas are perceived as more conservative. This means that legislation may not be overturned. Furthermore, if at least one circuit of the states that have implemented these new legislation that goes against Roe v. Wade may garner attention from the Supreme Court.

Reproductive rights are debated on those who identify as “pro-life” or anti-abortion and “pro-choice” or pro-abortion. Pro-life advocates tend to be Republican, with the exception of a few Democrats and pro-choice advocates tend to be roughly Democratic and is a part of the party platform. Traditionally, both sides agree that the three states recently passing this legislation are doing so to bring a case to the Supreme Court. Currently, a 5-4 majority with conservatives holding most seats, the landmark Roe v. Wade court case that upholds the right to abortion is aimed to be challenged by states with this new legislation. Both sides agree that the decision for these cases to be made in the Supreme Court would not occur soon, but this legislation is revitalizing the conversation on abortion.

Pro-choice people argue that these new bans are unconstitutional due to them obstructing private medical rights, and additionally at the low rate of abortion clinics. North Dakota only has one abortion clinic in Fargo called the Red River Women’s Clinic and is waiting for a decision in a case related to the legislation. A case involving similar legislation in Arkansas is also in court and North Dakota’s case is waiting for the resolution of Arkansas.

Roe v. Wade has been hotly debated recently and the current actions of these states show that abortion is a topic that cannot be easily settled as we would wish. A major supporter of abortion, Planned Parenthood, is another aspect of abortion that has been contested recently. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an organization that provides health services along with abortions across the nation, and has been faced by a nationwide gag rule by President Trump that prohibits women from accessing the facilities, defunding support from Planned Parenthood, and providing inaccurate facts on the facility.

Quite a few states passed this legislation refusing to recognize the reality of abortion. One in three women in America have had an abortion. That is a fact. Although every surgical procedure is risky, an abortion is one of the safest procedures and the most common, even 14 times safer than carrying pregnancy to term and delivering vaginally. The language used by women who have been involved in the abortion process is very important to some women.  As most female-identifying individuals are capable of becoming pregnant, abortion is a topic that feels intimately personal and dependent on their opinion alone. This may be because their body will carry a fetus and if they choose to deliver it. This may be because 60% of women who have an abortion are mothers.

Regardless of the female perspective in abortion, the fact is abortion is contested on the legislative level and may possibly be by the Supreme Court.

Photo: Michael Reynolds / EPA

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Mia Boccher
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