We are already feeling the effect of Donald Trump’s election in the US. The war on women’s rights has started.
The Ohio state legislature has passed a bill to prohibit abortion as soon as a foetal heartbeat can be detected.
This is at around six weeks—before many women realise they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Republican state governor John Kasich has until this coming Friday of this week to decide whether to sign or veto the bill. If he signs it, it will pose a threat to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion until the point of viability.
This is typically regarded as around 24 weeks.
In the past the courts have halted state bills that tried to cut the abortion time limit. But anti-abortionists now have a new confidence.
They know Trump has promised to put in place Supreme Court judges who will overturn Roe v Wade, the key case that enshrined women’s access to abortion.
Ohio senate president Republican Keith Faber said, “A new president, new Supreme Court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward.”
Even if the “foetal heartbeat” law is stopped, another Ohio proposal could cut the time limit to 20 weeks. This would be as a “first step” by anti-abortion groups to undermine women’s rights.
An amendment to the 20-week bill that would have made an exception for survivors of rape and incest was defeated.
Kasich has until 28 December to sign or veto the 20-week bill. If he does nothing on either bill, both automatically become law.
It’s not just in Ohio that the attack is coming. Texas has forced clinics that provide abortions to either bury or cremate foetal remains. This adds thousands of dollars to the cost of the procedure.
As always when there are anti-abortion moves, the main effect is that more women turn to unsafe means to terminate pregnancy.
The attacks are terrible. But it’s encouraging that there is already outrage about what is happening and the potential for a strong movement to fight back. Women, especially young women, are not going to just give in.
We have to fight Trump on so many fronts, but the defence of abortion rights is an urgent and crucial one.