When the Supreme Court formally overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will be banned in Louisiana thanks to a 2006 trigger law putting such a ban in place as soon as the court allowed. But that’s not enough for some Louisiana Republicans—they’re pushing a bill that would not just criminalize abortion but treat it as homicide.
The state House Appropriations Committee moved the bill forward on a 7-2 vote despite one of the lawmakers voting in favor admitting that it was unconstitutional, and despite the imminent Supreme Court decision allowing Louisiana’s trigger law to go into effect. “We can't wait on the Supreme Court,” said the bill’s author, despite the fact that the wait for the Supreme Court is likely to be a matter of weeks.
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For years, people warning that Republicans really did want to overturn Roe v. Wade and that Republicans really did want to criminalize abortion have been mocked as partisans dishonestly seeking advantage or condescended to as alarmist, but here we go: The Supreme Court is poised to allow states to ban abortion, and Republicans in one state are moving forward with a bill that would allow abortion providers and their patients to be prosecuted for murder.
Co-founder of Sister District, Gaby Goldstein, joins The Downballot to discuss what Democrats in the states are doing to protect abortion rights
A bill criminalizing abortion in this way could also criminalize in vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control—already, many of the people most loudly opposed to abortion describe some forms of contraception, including IUDs and emergency contraceptives, as abortifacients. And even if miscarriage is not technically criminalized, in a world where abortion is a crime, miscarriage will become a highly suspicious event, particularly for already vulnerable people.
And this isn’t a case where the one fringe Republican who all the other Republicans kind of wish would go away introduced a bill that everyone is ignoring. This passed out of committee and it wasn’t even close.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft striking down Roe, Republicans are still trying to portray people worried about what comes next as dishonest or hysterical or both. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is circulating a memo, obtained by Axios, calling on Republicans to “Forcefully refute Democrat lies regarding GOP positions on abortion and women's health care.” Those so-called lies? That Republicans want to take away contraception. That Republicans want to take away mammograms. That Republicans want to “throw doctors and women in jail.”
And yet. In addition to this Louisiana bill calling for doctors and women to be thrown in jail for one of the most serious crimes there is, just a couple months ago, all three Republicans running for Michigan attorney general said that Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court opinion striking down bans on contraceptives for married people, was wrongly decided. As for mammograms, it’s not a common claim in the context of abortion that Republicans are trying to take them away, and while Republicans aren’t yet specifically targeting them, that would fall under the more general category of Republicans making any and all health care difficult to obtain. The Affordable Care Act requires most insurance plans to cover mammograms and other preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs for the patient, and we know Republicans feel about the Affordable Care Act.
This is the next step. Probably all the people who said that Roe wasn’t really in any danger will also line up to say that criminalizing abortion isn’t really going to happen. But this week, we know how to assess their judgment of what’s possible.
Fight back! A list of a few reproductive justice organizations you can support today
If SCOTUS kills Roe, many states are poised to swiftly enforce abortion bans, sweeping restrictions