Nobody is safe from abortion bans and the criminalization of abortion. Yes, even those who live in states where abortion is still legal are at risk.
Abortion is currently banned in 14 states, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s home state of Wisconsin. Beyond this, four states have abortion restrictions based on gestation. It is expected that more than half of the country will soon have an abortion ban. But if Christian nationalist legislators have their way, the entire country would not only have an abortion ban, but those who have abortion would be treated as criminals. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the latest actions by anti-abortion legislators.
Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a federal ban on abortions at 15 weeks gestation. This is completely counter to his previous sentiments that states should decide. But when anti-abortion legislators are given an inch, they tend to take a mile. In a recent interview Graham said, “I am proudly pro-life, and I have no apology for being pro-life, and there is no bad time to defend the unborn.” Graham seems to show no concern for women and other pregnant people who have to navigate complicated health situations without medical support.
And even if this bill doesn’t become law, Graham crudely proclaimed that this is just part of a long game for the anti-abortion movement: “We are trying to basically normalize America here … If we stay on this and keep talking about it maybe in a decade this will be law.” This echos the steps of their anti-abortion predecessors who moved whatever goalposts they could until Roe was eventually overturned.
But even in states where abortion is already illegal, legislators are looking to take it a step further. Anti-abortion legislators are now pushing for women who obtain an abortion to receive prison time or even the death penalty. It’s no surprise that these legislators are men who wield the bible to make their legislative choices. Louisiana state Rep. Danny McCormick stated that “the taking of life is murder” while his ally, Baptist pastor Brian Gunter announced “no compromises, no waiting.” And sadly this isn’t an isolated incident.
Earlier this year, five male lawmakers in Texas cruelly attempted to make abortion punishable by the death penalty. Meanwhile legislators in Kansas, Indiana and Arizona have endorsed criminalizing abortion as early as at time of fertilization, and/or make no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the pregnant person. Other politicians are taking it a step further: Idaho state Senate candidate Scott Herndon wants to redefine abortion as the “intentional killing” of a fetus. He credits his anti-abortion stance due to him being a born-again Christian. These actions and ideologies are not in step with science. Instead, they emphasize religious extremism. In fact, Dr. Louise King, a gynecologic surgeon and professor at Harvard Medical School, explained: “Most of these ‘arguments’ are attempts to impose a minority religious view on the majority of our citizens.”
Simply put, no one is safe from the overreach of Christian nationalism on a secular society. Living in a “safe abortion state” is a myth because there will be more attempts at a national abortion ban, and anti-abortion zealots will be able to concentrate their money, lobbying and pressure on the remaining pro-choice states. Additionally, in states where abortion is already restricted or banned, there will be further attempts to put women behind bars for receiving abortion care.
So what can secular citizens do?
Vote in all elections, including local elections. Abortion protections are not just federal decisions, but can occur on local and state levels, too. Check out your state’s deadline to register to vote, if you haven’t already registered.
Donate to abortion funds. The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin was established by FFRF’s principal co-founder Anne Nicol Gaylor. One of the oldest abortion funds in the nation, it has already provided abortion care to 970 people in just the first six months of this year. Since abortion is now banned in Wisconsin due to reinstatement of an 1849 law, the Women’s Medical Fund is more important than ever.
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.
Indeed, the Religious Right is doing what it can to ensure that abortion access is completely decimated throughout the United States. This is nowhere near the end and we need your help to restore abortion for everyone.