Presidents come and go, but the fight over abortion continues regardless in the United States
Claudia Williams: Hi, Iâ€™m Claudia â€“ and this is Sensemaker, from tortoisemedia.com.
One story every day to make sense of the world.
Today: the new crusaders fighting against abortion rights in America.
Greg Abbott is everything you might expect from a Republican Governor in a southern state like Texas. He has deeply-held conservative values, heâ€™s against same sex marriage, heâ€™s pro gun ownershipâ€¦.Â
So him being anti-abortion might not come as a surprise.Â
On Wednesday, he signed into law a strict anti-abortion billâ€¦
â€śNow, weâ€™re about to make it lawâ€¦.â€ť ÂGovernor Greg Abbott signing the heartbeat bill
But this new bill â€“ the â€śheartbeat billâ€ť â€“ is really controversial.Â
â€śItâ€™s called one of the most extreme abortion bansâ€¦ The heartbeat bill, now a Texas law, forbids pregnancy termination as early as six weeks, no exceptions for rape or incest.â€ťKens 5 Eyewitness News report
It bans women from getting an abortion after just 6 weeks of pregnancy. Thatâ€™s when a foetal heartbeat can first be detected â€“ but itâ€™s before many women actually know that theyâ€™re pregnant.
It also allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after that 6 week mark. Whether thatâ€™s an abortion providor or an abortion rights activist.Â
The person suing doesnâ€™t even need to know the person getting an abortion. It could be completely random.Â
Although it might sound shockingâ€¦ whatâ€™s happening in Texas right now isnâ€™t an anomaly. A wave of anti-abortion legislation has been spreading across the United Statesâ€¦Â
â€śThe Supreme Court has agreed to review a Mississippi law restricting abortions, the case could set the stage for a weakening of Roe vs Wade. There is energy on the right and dread on the left that thisâ€¦â€ťMSNBC news report
On Monday the countryâ€™s highest court announced a review of a similar law in Mississippi â€“ a bid to ban most abortions after 15 weeks.Â
That case could undermine the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling from 1973â€¦ which guarantees a womanâ€™s constitutional right to end her pregnancy. But this ruling divided America back when it was first introducedâ€¦ and the divisions are still raw today.Â
So the question is: nearly half a century onâ€¦ are abortion rights in the US facing a major rollback?Â
These bills havenâ€™t come out of nowhere.Â
Back in 2019 nearly 30 states, including Texas, introduced some form of abortion ban into law. They included restrictions on facilities, penalties for doctors, and requirements for spousal consent.Â
â€śTheyâ€™ve decided that the best way to erode abortion rights in this country is to chip away at it, as opposed to banning it 100%.â€ťCBC news report
It began just after Donald Trump appointed two new Supreme Court justicesâ€¦ tipping the balance on the bench to be more conservative.Â
The hope was that these controversial laws would work their way up through small courtsâ€¦ and get the attention of the Supreme Court.Â
â€śSo Brian the most important thing to know is that the Supreme Court never has to hear anything, they never have to hear a caseâ€¦ they get 10,000 requests a year to hear cases, they hear about 65 of them, but they agreed to hear this case.â€ťNeal Katyal, Georgetown University law professor
And if they got the attention of the Supreme Courtâ€¦ state leaders like Greg Abbott in Texas hoped that they could eventually overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling nationwideâ€¦
â€śOur creator endowed us with the right to life and yet, millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives.â€ťGovernor Greg Abbott signing the heartbeat bill
For himâ€¦ abortion is a particularly personal subjectâ€¦
â€śWell years ago, years ago I held a little baby in my arms, months before that her mother talked to staff at a crisis pregnancy centreâ€¦ well that little infant girl is now my 21 year old daughter.â€ťGovernor Greg Abbott speaking at an anti-abortion rally
Greg Abbott says adopting his daughter is the driving force behind his efforts to curtail abortion. But are they going to work?
â€śAccording to a statement from the Supreme Court Associate Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this evening surrounded by her family.â€ťABC news report
In September 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg â€“ a champion of reproductive rights â€“ died.Â
Her place on the Supreme Court bench had largely prevented attacks on Roe vs Wadeâ€¦ but after her death she was replaced with a judge with long-held anti-abortion viewsâ€¦.Â
â€śJudge Amy Cohen Barrett Barrett is expected to be President Donald Trumpâ€™s pickâ€¦ heâ€™s hoping sheâ€™ll become the courtâ€™s all-important sixth conservative vote.â€ťWall Street Journal news report
That means six of the nine seats are now held by conservatives. The ideological balance of the bench has shifted once again.Â
Back in Texas, Governor Greg Abbottâ€™s new law will come into effect in September if itâ€™s not stopped by the courts. Eight other US states have tried to introduce similar six-week bans beforeâ€¦ so far, all were blocked by the lower courts.Â But collectively, these laws make a clear statement. Renewed efforts to make abortions harder to obtain arenâ€™t stopping anytime soon.
And the Supreme Court review of the Mississippi law is not just about one state: it could affect the entire countryâ€¦ undermining the landmark Roe vs Wade rulingâ€¦ and paving the way for more states to impose their own limits.
A result in the Mississippi case isnâ€™t expected until June 2022â€¦ just a few months before the midterm elections in the US. In the coming months and yearsâ€¦ Abortion is set to be a crucial issue across the political spectrum.
Whatâ€™s clear is that the shift in the composition of the Supreme Court is already having an impact.Â
Todayâ€™s story was written and produced by Imy Harper.