Amid constant news of unconstitutional abortion bans like Georgia's "fetal heartbeat bill," passed on Friday, a new report found that anti-choice lawmakers in 41 states have introduced over 250 bills restricting access to abortion care in the first months of 2019 alone. The report was released on Wednesday by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Guttmacher Institute.
For years, conservative lawmakers have relentlessly introduced and passed measures such as waiting periods, targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, limits on abortion medication, and restrictions that dictate at which point in their pregnancies women can terminate them. The anti-choice crusade has led to an uptick in abortion deserts, places where people have to travel 100 miles or more to access care. A total of six states has been left with only one abortion provider to serve the entire state.
With the blessing of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the ideological balance of the U.S. Supreme Court having been officially cemented to the right, anti-choice lawmakers are emboldened. "Energized by a new Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists and politicians have kicked into high gear their decades-long agenda to ban abortion through a series of increasingly radical and dangerous abortion bans," Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at Guttmacher Institute, said in a statement. She added: "At their core, abortion restrictions are about exerting control and power over pregnant people. The surge in attempts to ban abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy drives home that the end goal of anti-abortion politicians and activists is to ban all abortion — at any point during pregnancy and for any reason."
Seven states have introduced measures that would ban abortion entirely. Six states have passed so-called "trigger laws," which would make abortion automatically illegal in the event that Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to choose, is overturned. The growing trend of anti-abortion measures also includes the controversial "heartbeat bills," which would ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. This month alone, Kentucky and Mississippi both signed their respective heartbeat bans into law and the Georgia lawmakers sent the state's version to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign it, for a signature. In total, a dozen states have considered this type of measure since January, despite courts clearly declaring them unconstitutional. Reproductive rights advocates say the wave is likely to continue.
"This is just a straight-up abortion ban," Oriaku Njoku, cofounder and executive director of ARC Southeast, which helps people access reproductive care, told Refinery29 earlier this month. "The reality is that most folks don't find out they are pregnant until after six weeks. This is not only happening in Georgia. It's a calculated attack, going on all throughout the country, to eliminate access to abortion."