Georgia is the latest state about to pass a "fetal heartbeat" abortion bill. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign by this Sunday the bill that bans women from getting abortions after a heartbeat is detected, or about six weeks into pregnancy. Other states with similar laws include Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and Ohio.
Six-week abortion bans return us to the dark ages
By Toni Van Pelt
A bizarre competition to enact the most extreme abortion restrictions is taking place in states across the country from Ohio to Iowa to Kentucky. With new conservative justices on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, this groundswell of activity has one ultimate goal: to restore the direct and dangerous controls placed on women's bodies before Roe v. Wade.
The fact is, so-called heartbeat legislation, which bans abortion at the moment a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sometimes as early as six weeks, places undue hardships on women who might not even know they are pregnant yet.
Ask your friends and family to sign-up for the Today's Talker newsletter
It also has a disparate impact on women earning lower-incomes who often do not have paid sick leave or the financial resources to get an abortion within that extremely short time frame. The legislation also often forces women to undergo incredibly invasive transvaginal ultrasounds and requires burdensome reporting requirements that further victimize rape survivors.
Lawmakers in these primarily conservative states are telling their supporters that these newly introduced and egregious laws will force the Supreme Court to take up a case to overturn Roe. In truth, there are already 20 cases in the lower courts that could come first.
This national and well-funded campaign by extremists is far out of step with mainstream views on abortion rights. Numerous polls show that a majority of Americans support access to safe, legal abortion.
A recent poll by Public Policy Polling on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America found that 64% of voters in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Nevada are more likely to support elected officials in the next election if they work to protect Roe. We are working closely with our local chapters to urge state legislators and governors to reject the bills not yet passed.
The fact is that women have a constitutional right to safe, legal abortion, and these alarming legislative machinations are part of a calculated and well-funded national effort to drum up political support for anti-abortion candidates in upcoming elections. Meanwhile, women's health, autonomy and their right to the pursuit of happiness are under serious threat.
Toni Van Pelt is the president of the National Organization for Women. You can follow her on Twitter: @ToniVP.
What others are saying
George F. Will, The Washington Post: "The changed composition of the Supreme Court, and the supposed imminent danger that Roe will be overturned, is the excuse that pro-abortion extremists have seized upon to do what they want to do anyway: to normalize extreme abortion practices expressive of the belief that never does fetal life have more moral significance than a tumor in a mother’s stomach. ... The court’s new composition has encouraged some pro-life advocates in their maximum hope, that Roe can be overturned, which would not proscribe abortion but would restore its pre-1973 status as a practice states can regulate. This is not a foreseeable possibility; a more nuanced abortion regime is."
Harriet Bradley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "You would think that this bill wouldn’t be controversial because we all know that a heartbeat determines that something is alive. An abortion would stop a heartbeat! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The Democratic women in the Georgia legislature in protest screamed statements like, 'This is a horrible bill,' and that no one should be able to tell a woman what she can do with her body, or the decision should be made by the woman only. ... I am here to say that as a woman and a pro-life Democrat, I speak and stand up for the life of the unborn."
Vice President Mike Pence, Twitter: "As Democrat governors in New York and Virginia advocate for late-term abortion, and even 'infanticide' — and Democrats in Congress refuse to allow a vote on the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act — (Saturday) in Times Square an ultrasound (was) shown for all to see. Demonstrating the miracle of life. #AliveFromNewYork"
What our readers are saying
I wonder if a woman can use a similar law to "stand your ground" for abortion, if she fears the pregnancy will endanger her life.
— Brigitte Walsh Riggs
Women should be forced to recognize that they are about to kill a fetus, which is not just a bunch of undifferentiated cells as Planned Parenthood claims, but is in fact a developing human being.
— Michael Golden
Tell us all again, Democrats, how killing unborn children is in line with all that compassion, respect and love you hypocrites are so famous for feigning?
— Robert Campbell
There's no fully formed heart at six weeks, only muscle contractions. The fourth chambered heart isn't developed until later on. And a heart being equivalent to life isn't even medically correct.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Heartbeat' bills are just an excuse to attack Roe v. Wade protections: Today's talker