January 22nd is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Despite surviving many challenges, Roe is precarious given the GOP push to get conservatives justices appointed. While the majority of americans support legal abortion, abortion is such a political weapon that Roe could theoretically be overturned, and then what? Abortion legality would revert to the states and in 15 states that would mean abortion would immediately become illegal (although some do have life/health of mother exceptions), because:
- 13 states still have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books. The 13 state with surviving pre-Roe bans are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- 4 states have laws that will ban abortion immediately should Roe be overturned (I call these bans-at-the-ready laws). These states are Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Mississippi, a state so zealous that they need to spend tax dollars to get second abortion ban on the books in case the pre-Roe ban doesn’t stick. Maybe their new state motto should be, “Banning abortion twice, because even pro-lifers need a Plan B.”
It would also mean that in another 5 states laws banning abortion would be pushed through the legislatures because 7 states claim that if Roe gets overturned, they will enact bans (how Kansas didn’t make this list is a mystery to me):
- Arkansas (maybe they don’t realize they have a pre-Roe ban?)
- Louisiana (their abortion ban is permanently enjoined by a court order, so at least I can understand their “logic” in getting a back up)
- North Dakota (again, state lawmakers aiming for two laws to do the job of one, if that doesn’t say tax dollars at work, I don’t know what does)
Arkansas and North Dakota certainly get points for zealotry, but the idea of threatening to ban abortion to the maximum extent of the law when you already have a ban on the books expressly written for the scenario if Roe is overturned, is, well, either an egregious display of abortion-ban-screaming to raise campaign dollars or just abject stupidity.
Roe is safe for at least another 4 years, but 20 states are poised to take action should federal protection of abortion rights go away.
And finally, just because abortion is legal, doesn’t mean it’s accessible or affordable. During the past 40 years state politicians have crafted ways to chip away at Roe by getting away with medically ludicrous laws, such as mandatory ultrasounds, the size of supply closets, or how a medical abortion is prescribed (Wisconsin, I’m looking at you). So, in some states whether Roe stands of falls may eventually not matter at all. Is your state one of them?