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State Abortion Restrictions Still a Priority for Republican Lawmakers

3 years ago
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Republican state legislators around the country, holding the majority in most cases, have aggressively moved in the past few weeks to enact new abortion restrictions. If any of these measures pass into law, and many are predicted to do so, they will likely generate a new wave of litigation over the contours of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 abortion decision. It has been five years now since the Supreme Court decided a major abortion case, and none are on its docket for the rest of this term.

In Iowa on Monday, for example, a panel of the state House Human Resources Committee approved language that would protect human life at conception. The measure would criminalize doctors who perform abortions, according to its sponsors, and would preclude any review by the Iowa Supreme Court. Testifying in support of this bill, one woman who says she was forced to have an abortion she regretted told lawmakers: "I felt I was no better than Timothy McVeigh. I killed someone." McVeigh was executed in June 2001 for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building on April 19, 1995.

In South Dakota, meanwhile, a routine measure that seeks to refine the definition of "justifiable homicide" was expanded last week by Republican legislators to include not just protections for self-defense but also for the defense of an "unborn child." Abortion-rights advocates immediately described the pending statute as "an invitation to murder abortion providers" (although the bill's sponsor told The Washington Post it would not legalize the killing of such providers). The measure passed out of committee on a party-line vote and is now on its way to the state House of Representatives, which is also in Republican hands.

In Ohio, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Tuesday, "in a span of eight days, Ohio Statehouse Republicans will have introduced five separate bills aimed at restricting access to abortions, including a controversial measure banning the procedure as early as six weeks after conception." According to the report, Republican officials were scheduled Tuesday to reveal a proposed law that would outlaw abortions from the moment a fetus' heartbeat is detected. "I think any time is the right time to address abortion," Ohio House Speaker Bill Batcheldor told the paper. Republicans in Ohio hold power in both the state Senate and state House, as well as the Supreme Court and governor's mansion.

In Arizona, the legislative fight over abortion rights this session will center on the regulation of the so-called abortion pill. But last week, a Republican legislator there introduced a bill that would seek to ban abortions if they were based upon the race or sex of a fetus. In Florida, an ordained minister, who is also a Republican lawmaker, has introduced the Florida For Life Act, which aside from seeking to outlaw most abortions also contains the following striking language:

"The Legislature finds that the justices of the United States Supreme Court are not qualified to determine, establish, or define the moral values of the people of the United States and specifically for the people of Florida. The Supreme Court's removal of moral and political questions from the political power of the people to determine, under color of constitutional adjudication, is a violation of the peoples' right to self-government guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States."

Lawmakers in Kansas (parental consent) and Colorado (fetal homicide) are currently wrestling with abortion issues. Republican lawmakers in Montana, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas have introduced "personhood" bills, and similar legislation in Iowa and North Dakota is well on its way to becoming state law. These laws define "personhood" at its earliest moments -- earlier than the current test set forth by the Supreme Court -- and would impact abortion rights in any number of ways.

Upon passage, it is likely that each of the above measures would be challenged, probably in federal court, by abortion-rights advocates who claim the proposed restrictions upon women and doctors go far beyond existing legal precedent. The United States Supreme Court, which is unlikely to heed Florida's admonition to stay out of the debate, has not heard an abortion case since 2006.

Recent national polls did not place abortion on the list of priorities offered by Americans in the past few months; jobs, health care, the budget deficit, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and immigration generally led those lists.
Filed Under: Republicans, Abortion, Law

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todnick

After the elections, all the pundits were saying that the House being taken over by Republicans was not nearly as significant as the state legislatures. Now we see why. Getting rid of abortion, in any form, has been on their Christmas wish list since Roe v Wade back in the 70s. They are pro-life right up until the baby is born. Then the mother, who could well be poor, is on her own because they want to dismantle the social safety nets as well. It's so hypocritical that it makes my head hurt.

February 17 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
usa1stcitizen

This is an issue that both parties need to work on. Abortion for contraception should be banned.There are times when abortion is an option but it should not be one if it is just a matter of the woman not wanting to be pregnate. Women and men should use contraceptives before a pregnacy occures. I am a liberal from the Commonwealth of Virginia. May The Lord have mercy on all us poor sinners and grant our nation and ourselves wisdom, prosperity, and courage in these latter times

February 16 2011 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Yvonne

The Republican Party is always saying that the government needs to stay our of peoples lives yet they want the government to be involved in a woman's medical issue and the most personal decision a woman ever has to make.... this should be between the woman and her medical providers not her, her doctor and the Republican Party.

February 16 2011 at 5:00 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
vobox3343

I suggest that Republicans introduce legislation that we have sex for the purpose of procreation only. Go for it. Let's see how squeaky clean and holy they really are!

February 16 2011 at 3:33 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
rker321

For any female, the termination of a pregnancy, is probably the most intimate decision that they will have to face in their lifetime.
Let's respect that right.

February 16 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
curiousyel

What if the odds were 50/50 that men could become pregnant? You would bet heavily that rape and incest would nearly disappear.
Think of all those men walking around with swollen bellies. That thought gives a whole new image to "paternity suit".
Be certain that the politicians and pundits who are spouting anti-abortion rhetoric (most of whom are men) would quickly change their tune.
As civil rights activist Florynce Kennedy said in 1973: "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." You betcha!

February 16 2011 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
herald7

I do think we need to stop sugar coating abortion as some glorious "right" women have. The majority of abortions are done by women who feel forced into it due to poverty. There is no choice for them. And Planned Parenthood takes advantage of this.

February 16 2011 at 1:24 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to herald7's comment
ellazls

I dont believe in abortion but its a womans choice, she has to live with it for the rest of her life and to be honest it shouldent be anyone elses opinion about the situation. Yes, its wrong and it will probly haunt her forever but she decided it. The American people need to back off if u want to put yourself in that sitation then its ur choice. As for the doctors who perform these they can be considard murderers but sometimes abortion is needed either for a rape or a health hazard. I think people need to stop being so shy about sex education and start pushing condoms and birth control at high schools and junior highs but since people are ignorent and think its a bad example for teens then just wait till ur 16 year old daughter gets knocked up. dummies

February 16 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ellazls's comment
herald7

The idea that children aren't taught about safe sex is an overblown myth. I learned about condoms and birth control and I went to Catholic school! The fact is safe sex hasn't been enough to prevent unwanted pregnancies. People aren't taking responsibility for their actions.

February 16 2011 at 1:25 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Mandy

@herald7: And do you know how much gov't money is funding 'abstinence only' education, especially in the South? A tremendous amount! And guess where most of the teen pregnancies are happening? Think of all that support that could go to even -more- safe sex education. I received safe sex education as well, but only once in middle school, of all times. Nothing happened in high school, and I went to a private institution. That needs to change, for private and public sectors!

February 16 2011 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
fun4holly

Why is this even being debated after all this time? For those that think it's
terrible - don't worry about it. Day of reckoning comes for everyone and that should be enough

February 16 2011 at 12:52 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
cmitzinc

What really gets to me is that Republicans have no problem going to war and killing thousands lives, then argue about abortions. A woman's womb is her own, it is her private decisions what goes in or comes out of it! Protestors will not stop an unwanted pregnancy, but if Roe v Wade is repealed, then out comes the coathangers, drano and basically anything else that will force an abortion. Many times killing the mother. The protestors are NOT saving anything.

February 16 2011 at 12:42 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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