Convinced Roe v. Wade can’t be overturned now, pro-life activists have passed laws in 12 states restricting termination after 20 weeks—about the time some fetal defects emerge.
These states, as well as the House of Representatives, have voted to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks
—the exact moment when some parents are just learning about severe or even fatal defects, reports Beth Reinhard in today’s edition of The Atlantic.
“Only Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas include exceptions for fetal impairment. And while these 20-week
bans affect a tiny fraction of abortions—only 1.3 percent occur after 21 weeks, the benchmark used by the federal government—they predominantly target women who are carrying gravely impaired babies or whose pregnancies are putting their own health at risk. With very few exceptions, these are women who had every intent to carry their babies to term until forced, at five months pregnant, to make a swift and excruciating decision.
“Our experience has been that parents who have gone through this don’t talk about it,” Kyle says. “We wanted to tell our story for the people who didn’t feel like they could. A family friend said it was like joining a secret club that no one wants to join.”
“Banning abortions after 20 weeks represents the new frontier of the antiabortion movement, aimed at pushing past the boundaries set by the Supreme Court in 1973. The Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortions until a fetus is viable outside the womb, around 24 weeks. The antiabortion movement’s case for earlier restrictions is that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, but the ultimate goal is much more sweeping: to send a legal challenge to the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe.
“The constitutional implications aren’t lost on Abbey Sanders, who emphasizes that she lives in Arkansas only because her husband is stationed there. She’s also seen him through deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. “I would have had to leave the state as a military spouse to get an abortion,” Abbey says. “That seems unfair when I don’t have a choice about where I live. I think it’s unconstitutional, and my husband supports and defends the Constitution on a daily basis.”
“There are also public-policy consequences. Half of the dozen states that have passed 20-week abortion bans—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas—are in the South, which has the highest poverty and uninsured rates and the lowest median incomes in the country, according to the Census Bureau. That means families in these states are among the most disadvantaged when it comes to caring for unwanted and disabled children. Arkansas, for example, ranks near the bottom in unintended and teen pregnancy rates (46th), number of doctors per resident (44th), and public health as measured by obesity, smoking, and diabetes (48th), according to data from nonprofit organizations and the federal government. Nearly one in five people in Arkansas have no health insurance. About the same proportion are living below the federal poverty line. Continue reading “The coming abortion war”