Women’s healthcare is currently going through some serious turmoil. So much so that literally millions of women took to the streets two weekends ago to remind the new president that they demand the right to decide what to do with their own bodies. With a future that remains wildly unclear in this regard, the battle between pro-life and pro-choice groups is more aggressive now than it has been in years.
To be blunt, much of this revived debate has been sparked by newly inaugurated President Trump. Trump has said point blank that he is pro-life — and furthermore, that he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade (the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide). The nominees he’s selected for his cabinet and for the vacant seat in the Supreme Court have proven that he’s really not kidding around on that front — and it has most women’s organizations gearing up for a brutal four-year fight.
Trump will have to appoint three Supreme Court Justices in total to even attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, but if he does that successfully, abortion laws could be determined by each individual state. That would mean women who need an abortion who live in a state that potentially outlaws the procedure would have to travel to another state where it is still legal.
Currently, Roe v. Wade still stands. Meaning, on some level, abortion is technically legal across the US. However, individual states can still decide to place certain restrictions on abortion, making it hard or even nearly impossible to actually get the procedure done. This is a legal, but sneaky undermining of the national law and a slippery slope of limiting women’s sovereignty over their own bodies.
As the fight on this front gets more heated throughout Trump’s presidency, certain states are certain to ramp up — or are currently already ramping up — on those restrictions. Here are a few of the states where women’s healthcare runs the most risk and why.
STATES WHERE Abortion laws are CHANGING
Arkansas: At the end of January, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law banning a common abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. According to Planned Parenthood, it is typically performed when more than 16 weeks have passed since a woman’s last period. The bill, titled Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, offers an exemption if the pregnancy imposes a serious health risk to the mother but nothing in the way of pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
Additionally, the legislation also states, a civil suit may be filed if a woman attempts to have the procedure done after the bill has been made into law. That would potentially result in a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The new law is expected to go into effect in the spring of this year.
A note on the bill’s scary sounding name: “Dismemberment abortion” isn’t exactly a fair description of what the procedure entails. Dilation and evacuation is the most common procedure when dealing with abortions that occur during the second trimester. Further to that point, this law essentially will ban abortions after 14 weeks by making the safest procedure a felony.
Ohio: Late last year, Ohio’s “heartbeat bill” was vehemently fought by pro-choice supporters and organizations for going against the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling. The proposed bill would have made it illegal to receive an abortion any time after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (typically about six weeks, which is often before many women even know they’re pregnant). Under the Supreme Court, abortion should be legal until the fetus is viable, meaning it could live outside of the womb. There is some debate on exactly how far into pregnancy that is, but it’s typically thought to be 24-28 weeks.
Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed the “heartbeat bill,” deeming it too severe, but he still imposed a ban on abortion after the 20-week point. This is still controversial in that it’s commonly considered to be a point before the fetus is viable, meaning it should be covered under the Supreme Court ruling. Like the Arkansas ban, it offers no exception for rape or incest, only in the case that the woman’s life is endangered. The 20-week ban will likely go into effect in the next couple of months. The House could potentially override Kasich’s veto, but considering he signed a similar — albeit, less extreme — version of the ban, that is considered unlikely.
Texas: Abortion has always been a hot-button issue for the notoriously conservative state of Texas. Last year, the debate came to a head with a historic SCOTUS ruling on the matter. Back in July of 2013, Texas Legislature passed a law called HB2. It was signed by then-governor Rick Perry and required abortion clinics in Texas to meet a strict set of new requirements in order to stay in operation (read all about those requirements here). Under those rules, the number of clinics in Texas dwindled to just 10 (that’s about one clinic to every 26,882 miles).
But last year, the Supreme Court stepped in and deemed half of the restrictions included under HB2 unconstitutional. However, two parts of that law still remain. Like in Ohio, abortions cannot be performed after 20 weeks unless it poses a serious health risk to the mother. Additionally, medication-induced abortions are not allowed to be prescribed via video-conferencing. Instead, the patient has to go to the clinic in person for both the first and second pill. And because clinics in TX are few and far between, this stipulation can make it extra difficult for women to get the care they need.
THE LD ON restrictions ELSEWHERE
Restrictions on abortions can vary drastically from state to state, but as a note, these are the states where there are currently restrictions after 20-weeks: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
For a full list of what the laws are in each state, The Guttmacher Institute has a comprehensive breakdown.
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