Did you know that in 2011 alone, more than 80 restrictions on abortion access were passed at the state level? That’s more than triple the 23 that were enacted in 2010. One current trend gaining a lot of traction in conservative legislatures is a ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation. Reasons for supporting these bills range from unsubstantiated claims of fetal pain to the possibility that a fetus at that gestational age could be considered viable. Regardless of the reasoning, these bans function to limit a woman’s access to a vital aspect of health care. This month two states join the seven that already have similar bans.
Last week Missouri’s Democratic Governor Jay Nixon allowed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks gestation to become law in his state. Though Nixon claims to be pro-choice, his decision speaks volumes about his dedication to women’s rights. In the state of Missouri, a bill passed by the House and Senate must be either signed into law or vetoed by the Governor within 45 days. If the Governor does not sign the bill or veto it in that time frame, the bill becomes law by default. In the end Nixon opted to neither sign the bill, nor veto it thus allowing it to become law.
In Ohio, similar legislation passed both the House and Senate and has been sent to Governor John Kasich to veto or approve. Though Governor Kasich has made no public statement on this yet, he is a declared “pro-life” supporter and will likely sign the bill into law.
The other states with 20 week bans are: Alabama, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. None of these states, including Missouri and Ohio, have exemptions for instances or rape or incest. Most only allow for exemptions when the women’s life is in immediate danger or in risk of serious damage to a major bodily function.
These attacks on women’s rights at the state level are only getting more frequent and more damaging as time goes on. It is time to take a stand and support women’s rights on a national and state level. Contact your local Senator and Representative and make sure they know where you stand on reproductive rights.