Abortion Debate Flares Up Again on State and National Stage
Image of demonstrators, both for and against abortion, in front of the Supreme Court
Source: Victoria Pickering, “Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,” flickr.com, June 20, 2016
Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi, and the United States Supreme Court currently face major abortion debates.
On Mar. 20, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill that requires information to be provided to women who have taken an abortion pill, about the possibility of reversing such medically-induced abortions through use of a counteracting medication.
On Mar. 19, two Ohio State Representatives, along with 18 co-sponsors, introduced HB 565, a bill that would ban all abortions outright, including in instances of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother. The bill, if passed and signed into law by the Governor, would make an unborn child a person under Ohio criminal code. According to one of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Ron Hood, “the goal of this bill is to first of all continue to get the word out that life does begin at conception and move the debate in that direction.” Since 2011, Ohio has enacted over 20 different restrictions on abortion.
Also on Mar. 19, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Gestational Age Act (HB 1510), banning all abortions after the fetus is 15 weeks old. The bill contained no exception for rape or incest, though it does allow exceptions for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities. The law will make Mississippi the most difficult US state in which to obtain an abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America National Communications Director Kaylie Hanson Long stated that “the ban is clearly an attempt to effectively bring the state one step closer to outlawing abortion entirely.” One day after Governor Bryant signed HB 1510 into law, US District Judge Carlton Reeves temporarily blocked its implementation.
On Mar. 20, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, regarding a challenge to a California law that mandates that “crisis pregnancy centers” in the state provide information on the state’s abortion options. These state-licensed centers are set up to discourage women from having abortions, and to offer help with adoption. The filers of the lawsuit argue that the state law requiring them to provide information on abortion violates their free speech rights.
Associated Press, “Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi’s New 15-Week Abortion Ban,” pbs.org, Mar. 20, 2018
Jackie Borchardt, “Bill Banning Abortion Outright Introduced in Ohio House,” cleveland.com, Mar. 21, 2018
Paige Winfield Cunningham, “The Health 202: Abortion Foes Pleased with Supreme Court Hearing in California Case,” washingtonpost.com, Mar. 21, 2018
Elham Khatami, “Idaho Governor Just Signed Unscientific Anti-Abortion Bill Into Law,” thinkprogress.org, Mar. 21, 2018
Jenny Gathright, “Mississippi Governor Signs Nation’s Toughest Abortion Ban Into Law,” npr.org, Mar. 19, 2018
Tristan Justice, “Ohio Republicans Seek to Ban Abortion,” washingtonexaminer.com, Mar. 20, 2018
Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Warily Eyes California Law Involving Abortion and Free Speech,” nytimes.com, Mar. 20, 2018