“There is no state — there is no place — that is safe. Everything is at risk right now.”
These chilling words were spoken by Dr. Jamila Perritt, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the president of Physicians for Reproductive Health, in a recent New York Times article about the 300-plus abortion bills that are on the statehouses’ legislative docket.
Sadly, these words ring very true. As of this writing, abortion is banned or severely restricted in 17 states. In another eight states, the future of abortion awaits state court decisions. And anti-abortion legislators are just getting started. Because the truth is it has never been about banning abortion — it’s been about controlling women’s bodies.
Let’s just look at three states where abortion was protected by the state constitution, but is now in peril.
• In South Carolina, anti-abortion legislators debated a bill that would make abortion a homicide punishable by the death penalty. This bill comes only one month after the S.C. Supreme Court ruled that a previous statewide six-week ban violates the state’s constitutional right to privacy.
• In Montana, where abortion is constitutionally protected, legislators are seeking to overturn the state’s 1999 decision by claiming that the constitutional right to privacy does not include abortion.Yet, as we saw with the U.S. Supreme Court in June, precedence does not mean much to those who are anti-abortion.
• In New Mexico, which has become an abortion haven for people in Texas and Oklahoma seeking care, the threats come from local ordinances that seek to make abortion illegal in individual cities.
But even in states where abortion is already illegal, anti-abortion legislators are upping the ante. For example in Kentucky, a recently introduced bill would charge a woman who has an abortion with murder. Such a “fetal personhood” bill is right out of the Christian nationalist playbook and is a harbinger for what is to come in this post-Roe reality.
Anti-abortion legislation of this sort reminds me of the essay that I wrote for the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s graduate student contest exploring the biblical verse “you are not your own.” And it is at moments like these that I realize that our bodies will never be our own until abortion-affirming legislation is passed throughout the entire country. No state or person is safe from the long arm of abortion bans, as Dr. Jamila Perritt has said.
And, yet, this is not time for us to become despondent. After all, these anti-abortion legislators are not reflective of 61 percent of Americans (and 98-plus percent of FFRF members!) who believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Now is the time to show up for abortion rights. Here are some ways to get involved:
Support the EACH Act. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act would reverse the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage restrictions. You can find your representative here.
Donate to an abortion fund. Abortion funds help cover the cost of abortion for people who cannot afford it. Find your nearest abortion fund here.
The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin was established by FFRF’s co-founder Anne Nicol Gaylor. The fund helps over 1,000 Wisconsin residents obtain affordable abortion care each year. This is more important than ever since an 1849 abortion criminalization law is still on the books. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
Register to vote and make a voting plan. Abortion is on the ballot in local and state elections. Check out your state’s deadline to register to vote and make a plan for how you plan to get to the polls. Even in an off-year for congressional races, many areas have other races that will affect abortion rights, such as Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court race this year.
Sign up for Action Alerts from Freedom From Religion Foundation so you can be part of our national and state efforts to protect the separation of state and church.
Because it’s not really about abortion — it’s about control.