As Roe is weakened, conservative states are becoming more conservative, liberal states more liberal. Mutual antagonism is increasing around abortion, as it is around nearly everything else. If Roe is overturned altogether, it won’t just be a disaster for women’s health care and autonomy. It will further rip America apart.
Seeing Roe endangered, the anti-abortion movement has become more legislatively audacious. So-called heartbeat bills, which ban abortion at around six weeks’ gestation, before some women know they’re pregnant, used to be a rarity. Before this year, only two states had tried to enact six-week abortion bans, North Dakota in 2013 and Iowa in 2018. (Courts struck both laws down.) But in the first weeks of 2019, Mississippi and Kentucky passed such laws, and in addition to Georgia, six-week bans are moving forward in Missouri, Tennessee and Ohio.
Any of these laws could give the Supreme Court a chance to overturn Roe. As that possibility comes into view, anti-abortion lawmakers are showing us what a post-Roe world might look like. Another bill introduced in Georgia, also supported by Governor Kemp, would ban abortion if Roe were overturned, and make “the offense of criminal abortion” punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill’s language appears to apply to pregnant women as well as doctors.
So-called trigger laws, abortion bans that would go into effect if Roe is struck down, aren’t new. But according to Ilyse Hogue, president of the abortion-rights group Naral, proposals laying out prison terms for women who terminate their pregnancies are unusual.