President Joe Biden has promised to codify Roe V. Wade on the 48th anniversary of its passing, but states across the South show no signs of letting up on anti-abortion-related bills this legislative season.
According to Planned Parenthood, more than 100 bills targeting abortion and abortion access.have been introduced in state]houses across the country in the first weeks of legislative sessions. One of the most restrictive is a Mississippi bill sponsored by a state House member would find anyone who performs or induces an abortion guilty of murder.
Kaitlin Welborn, the reproductive rights attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama said the pandemic could hinder states like Alabama from actually passing abortion-related legislation simply due to time constraints.
“Having legislatures not be able to as easily meet and not be able to pass laws as easily and really have to actually focus on the actual important parts of government is really a good thing for reproductive justice,” Welborn said.
However in terms of abortion accessibility, the pandemic did, at least temporarily, halt abortions in states such as Texas. That state temporarily banned all abortions last April as a part of the state’s coronavirus response, calling the procedure nonessential. Eleven states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas all attempted to restrict abortion access during the pandemic.
The South has historically been a hostile environment for abortion access, with abortion clinics. According to a 2017 study from the Guttmacher Institute, a leading source on reproductive justice, between 2014 and 2017, the number of abortion clinics in the South decreased by 9 percent, more than any other region in the country. During the study period nine out of the 17 southern states lost at least one abortion clinic, with Texas losing seven, the most in the country.
Access to safe abortions is proven to improve the economic welfare and health outcomes of people who get abortions. According to a 2017 study from the Center for Reproductive Health and Ibis Reproductive Health, the more abortion restrictions a state has passed, the fewer evidence-based supportive policies exist, and the poorer the health and well-being outcomes for are women and children.
Here is a list of bills in the South attempting to restrict abortion access during the 2021 legislative season. Reckon will update this list as the season continues.
A new bill introduced into the Mississippi legislature would find anyone who performs or induces an abortion guilty of murder. The bill comes one year after a federal appeals court found Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional.
Two similar Florida bills, introduced in both houses, would attempt to ban abortions after 16 weeks or when the physician determines the fetus can feel pain. The bills also require physicians to report abortion information to the department of health and impose criminal penalties for performing abortions.
Kentucky’s “Born-Alive Infant Protection Act,” passed this month and went into effect, requiring doctors to perform life-saving measures on any infant born alive including during an attempted abortion. The bill would make it a felony for doctors who don’t attempt to keep the infant alive if the infant shows signs of a heartbeat or other signs of life.
Another bill would require minors attempting to get an abortion to obtain the informed written consent of a parent or legal guardian, including a copy of that parent’s or legal guardian’sgovernment-issued ID and would require the physician to keep a copy of the informed written consent for at least seven years.
And another would amend the state constitution, adding a section stating the state of Kentucky does not secure or protect a right to abortion or funding of abortion.
South Carolina’s “Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act” passed in the Senate last week. The bill would prohibit all abortions after the detection of a heartbeat and would require doctors to perform an ultrasound before an abortion to attempt to detect a heartbeat.
Similar “heartbeat bills” have passed in other states including Georgia and Mississippi, but were immediately challenged and have yet to go into effect.
Texas’s proposed“Human Life Protection Act” would automatically repeal any existing statutes related to legal abortion if Roe V. Wade were ever overturned. In Alabama, similar language was added to the state constitution in 2018.
And another bill would ban abortion after 12 weeks post fertilization except for the medical protection of the mother.
Alabama’s “born-alive” bill, would require a physician to exercise “reasonable care” to preserve the life of a fetus “born-alive,” during an attempted abortion. Similar bills in Alabama have been struck down for the last three years.
Arkansas just passed law, also known as the “Every Mom Matters Act” requiring people seeking an abortion to call a hotline before undergoing the procedure. The bill is now awaiting the governor’s signature to go into effect.