The Republican Party has long claimed to be the political party willing to go to war to protect Americans. Now its members are proving that protection is only for some of us as they pursue a war against the right of women, and men, to make their most personal decision: when to have a child.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the case of a Mississippi law that would outlaw abortions after the 15th week of a pregnancy. It is the first such case since justices who have made no secret of their antipathy toward Roe v. Wade became the majority.
That 1972 ruling made abortion a constitutionally protected privacy right. Since then, the court has used that precedent to prevent states from banning that right. Since then, states have pursued work-arounds, like regulating doctors and medical clinics, and banning third-trimester abortions even for medical reasons.
Also last week, Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, signed a “heartbeat ban” measure passed by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature. It bans all abortions performed after the first six weeks of pregnancy.
Many, if not most, women are only vaguely aware that they might be pregnant at six weeks. By the time they do know and can act, if they choose to, it will be too late. Rape and incest will be no exceptions in Texas.
It gets worse. The new law allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in an illegal abortion. Window-peeping gossips and willing lawyers should have a field day.
Abbott defended this nightmare with the statement that “millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.” That shocking claim, often thrown out by anti-abortion proponents to justify bans, is nonsense.
The Centers for Disease Control reported for the year 2018, its latest statistics, just over 600,000 abortions. The annual total for all types of abortion has dropped consistently from a high of 836,651 in 2006. That is not “millions.”
Couples of childbearing age have no experience with the days before Roe v. Wade. They will face a rude awakening if the Mississippi and Texas laws are allowed to stand.
If they are wealthy enough, women will still be able to travel to obtain safe abortions. If they are not, they may choose options that risk severe injury or even death. Or they may have to give birth.
Then, as now, unwanted pregnancies and unwanted births occur in an America where government seems to care about children before birth, but not so much after.
Having a child is a personal, private choice. The government should butt out.