Nearly three months without Roe v. Wade and it has become a daily practice to read in the news about the latest abortion restrictions and bans. As of this writing, abortion is completely banned in 12 states, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s home state of Wisconsin. Additionally, six-week abortion bans are in effect in Ohio and Georgia and 15-, 18-, or 20-week abortion bans are present in Utah, North Carolina and Florida. Moreover, nine states have abortion bans tied up in the courts, while Indiana’s newly-enacted abortion ban is set to go into effect on Sept. 15. These are truly terrifying times for pregnant people and anyone who cares about reproductive justice.
That makes it all the more necessary to applaud the states that are fiercely standing up for abortion care and reproductive health. Let these examples serve as a ripple effect for other states until necessary federal action is taken. For example, South Carolina senators recently rejected a ban on almost all abortions in the state. And while the state’s six-week abortion ban is currently being reviewed by the state Supreme Court, this measure to prevent a near-total abortion ban is worthy of recognition. Surprisingly, state Sen. Katrina Shealy, an anti-abortion legislator, scolded her colleagues for not even including exceptions for rape and incest: “You want to believe that God is wanting you to push a bill through with no exceptions that kill mothers and ruins the lives of children — lets mothers bring home babies to bury them — then I think you’re miscommunicating with God. Or maybe you aren’t communicating with him at all.” Such a statement by a self-described “pro-life” politician reveals just how extreme Christian nationalist’s anti-abortion agenda has become.
In Michigan, a judge decided that the 1931 law banning abortion is unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction that stops the enforcement of the law. In her final ruling, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher wrote that the 1931 law is “facially unconstitutional because its enforcement would deprive pregnant women of their right to bodily integrity and autonomy, and the equal protection of the law.” Instructions were included to advise Michigan county prosecutors to act accordingly. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing to a future repeal of the 1849 law criminalizing abortion care in Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul have filed a lawsuit to challenge the pre-Civil War law. The Supreme Court in Michigan has also ruled that voters can decide if abortion should be enshrined in the state’s Constitution in the November elections. Hopefully, the landslide voting turnout for abortion rights in conservative Kansas this summer signals that abortion rights will be secured in Michigan. Of course, pro-choice voters must turn out for that to happen.
In other news, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed an executive order to direct $10 million to a new abortion clinic near the New Mexico-Texas border. This is especially important as Texans have been largely without abortion care for over one year and all other Texas bordering states have also banned abortion. And California lawmakers just signed AB 1242, which makes the firmly abortion-friendly state also a “data haven state.” This means that California law-enforcement agencies are prohibited from sharing information related to a legal abortion being investigated by out-of-state agencies. It further prevents major tech firms and data brokers in California from sharing information with out-of-state agencies that are investigating abortion care procedures.
These good developments are needed more than ever since nearly half the states in the country are slated to ban and severely restrict abortion care. There is no evidence-based reason for doing so. All abortion restrictions are rooted in Christian nationalism. As a secular nation, we need to safeguard against this blatant attack of human rights. We need to see governors, state legislators, and courts — and voters — across the nation stand up for abortion.