By Craig Auster
This past month, our nation celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed American women the right to choose to have an abortion. Yet, despite 40 years of Roe as the law of the land, state legislatures are continuously trying to find new ways to undermine women’s rights.
The latest attempt to end a woman’s right to chooseis coming in the form of so-called “fetal heartbeat” bills. In direct violation of the right to an abortion during the first 24 weeks that is guaranteed to American woman under Roe, the “fetal heartbeat” legislation would criminalize abortions as soon as the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected. According to WebMD, you can hear a fetus’s heartbeat as early as 10 weeks.
Both the courts and the public have continuously turned back attempts to limit choice. Even in deeply conservative Southern states, voters in Mississippi voted down a “personhood” initiative and a Georgia court struck down a “fetal pain” law within the last year. Despite this, five states – Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio and Wyoming – are considering these even more extreme “fetal heartbeat” bills.
These state legislatures insist on wasting time and taxpayer money trying to undermine choicedespite the fact that Roe is the law of the land and that abortion was only picked as the top issue by 17% of voters in 2012 (and likely more than half of that 17% are pro-choice voters). When it comes to effective and meaningful policymaking, too many state legislators are on an ideological crusade rather than looking to serve the interests of the public.