The fight for reproductive rights has been on the rise since the nation awaits a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the landmark case Roe v. Wade. Under Roe v. Wade, individuals are able to get an abortion until roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. State lawmakers from Missouri to Idaho and more are proposing and passing restrictive legislation that aims to make abortion illegal in all circumstances. Missouri State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Colemans proposed a bill that aims to make it harder to go out of state to end pregnancies. This bill would “allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident obtain an abortion out of state, using the novel legal strategy behind the restrictive law in Texas that since September has banned abortions in that state after six weeks of pregnancy’’ (The Washington Post). Coleman has been trying to minimize Missourians out-of-state abortions since the new opening of the Planned Parenthood on the Illinois-Missouri border in 2019. She said “abortion is a really brutal practice and Illinois has chosen not to, in any way, provide protection for the unborn, and women, and we’re trying to do everything we can to make sure Missourians are protected” (The Washington Post). This bill would also prohibit financial assistance for a woman’s abortion or getting insurance coverage to pay for the procedure. According to Planned Parenthood, 10,644 Missouri residents have received abortion procedures at its Missouri-Illinois border clinics. Her bill would “target anyone even tangentially involved in an abortion on a Missouri resident, including the hotline staffers who make the appointments, the marketing representatives who advertise out-of-state clinics, and the Illinois and Kansas-based doctors who handle the procedure. Her amendment also would make it illegal to manufacture, transport, possess or distribute abortion pills in Missouri” (The Washington Post).
Abortion rights advocates argue that the bill is unconstitutional because it would directly allow states to enact legislation that is beyond their jurisdiction. Elizabeth Myer, an attorney for Texas abortion rights groups said “a state’s power is over its own citizens and its own geographical boundaries. These are limits imposed by the federal constitution and federal law” (The Washington Post). This new measure opens up “a new strategy by the anti-abortion movement to extend its influence beyond the conservative states poised to tighten restrictions if the Supreme Court moves this summer to overturn its landmark precedent protecting abortion rights”. (The Washington Post). For example, Idaho passed a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The new legislature would “allow the potential father, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles of a “preborn child” to sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years of an abortion. Under the Idaho bill, a doctor could face two to five years in prison if convicted of “criminal abortion.” Civil lawsuits against abortion providers would be allowed 30 days after enactment of the bill” (NBC). The Idaho bill provides an exception in cases of rape or incest, but it requires women to file a police report and show it to the provider before they undergo the procedures. This new bill passed the state senate with a 51-14 vote, Idaho “is the first state to fashion its ‘fetal heartbeat’ law on Texas’ controversial law that went into effect last September, in which anyone in the United States can bring legal action against anyone who helped a pregnant woman get an abortion in violation of Texas’ near-ban” (CNN). Opponents of this bill argue that it is unconstitutional because many women do not suspect they might be pregnant at six weeks.
There are many ways individuals can help protect and expand abortion access. These ways include talking to friends, family, and social media account followers about the importance of access to abortion care and ways to show support and end stigmas. Next, is supporting abortion funds that help patients who cannot afford an abortion pay for their care and other resources they may need. Lastly, would be to support organizations that fight to protect abortion access!
Here are some organizations that provide resources and aid to protect access to abortion care: