Rewire: Amid Threats to ‘Roe,’ State Lawmakers Push to Protect Access to Abortion Care
Monday, January 22 was the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the court case that decided people would have access to the abortion care they need. While there has been significant progress in much of the United States, North Carolinians have even fewer rights today than they did on January 22, 1973. In North Carolina Medicaid cannot pay for abortion, those seeking abortion care must wait at least 72 hours after contacting a provider, abortion is illegal after 9 weeks and 6 days, those under 18 must have parental consent, to receive abortion care one must hear the heartbeat and see an ultrasound, and abortion providers must send patient ultrasounds to the government. Over the next 45 years, we must work to make abortion care even more accessible.
There were 645 bills introduced in 2017 that sought to protect access to reproductive health care, a marked increase over the number of pro-choice measures introduced in 2016. Eighty-six of the 2017 bills were passed into law, according to a report by the National Institute for Reproductive Health.
Reproductive rights advocates on Monday commemorated the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade that established legal protections for abortion. As that decision is increasingly under legislative and legal threat by anti-choice politicians, state lawmakers from around the United States have introduced proactive legislation to ensure the procedure will remain legal.
Jennifer Dalven, director of the the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement that while the Supreme Court’s decision has prohibited lawmakers from banning abortion, it has not prevented them from erecting myriad barriers to the medical procedure.
President Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe, as the administration has already appointed an anti-choice Supreme Court justice and several anti-choice federal circuit court judges.
Gloria Totten, president of the Public Leadership Institute, said in a statement that it is critical for state lawmakers to pass laws that ensure access to abortion care even if the Supreme Court’s conservative majority takes aim at Roe.
“If Roe is reversed, the legality of abortion is left up to the states and, at present, only 17 states affirmatively protect the right to abortion,” Totten said. “That’s why lawmakers are acting now.”