New conservative abortion laws hope to be challenged in Supreme Court


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Recent laws in states like Georgia and Alabama have been passed restricting abortion in the hopes of being challenged in the Supreme Court. With an increasingly Conservative court, it is looking more and more likely the assurances of Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

Many conservative states have recently passed controversial abortion laws in the hopes that at least one of them will be challenged in the Supreme Court and subsequently overturn Roe v. Wade. Ever since this Supreme Court decision came out in 1973, conservatives have been rallying support from their constituents on the promise of overturning it. With the election of Trump in 2016 and the recent packing of the Supreme Court with conservative judges, it seems that this time they may be close to overturning the 40 year precedent. States that passed the laws include Georgia and Alabama.

Georgia’s law bans abortions through expanding the definition of a person to include unborn fetuses who have heartbeats. Because of the focus of this in the law, it has come to be known as the heartbeat law.

According to the text of the law, “No abortion is authorized or shall be performed if the unborn child has been determined to have a human heartbeat unless the pregnancy is diagnosed as medically futile.”

This would indicate that should the fetus not have a heartbeat yet it would be perfectly legal to abort it. However, as many pro-choice people have argued, fetuses develop a heartbeat between five and eight weeks, in which time many women may not recognize that they are pregnant, thus unable to receive a legal abortion. Some with a pro-life perspective believe that this is a reasonable law, agreeing that life should begin at the detection of a heartbeat.

“I think the idea of when there’s a fetal heartbeat, to me that’s a signifier that hey this is a baby…. I like that it restricts it to when that’s detected but it also has cases for, even though they’re rare examples, that there are provisions for rape and incest, I feel like it’s a very bipartisan way to create the law,” sophomore Lou Mohan said.

 The law does make concessions for cases of rape and incest, however these must be accompanied with a police report alleging the case.

“Except when, in reasonable medical judgment, the abortion is…Because of a pregnancy with an unborn child of 20 weeks or less gestational age that resulted from rape or incest in which an official police report has been filed alleging the offense of rape or incest,” according to the text of the law.

This is also controversial because while it does make an exception for cases of rape and incest, the requirement of a police report is effectively eliminating this clause, since cases of rape and incest are hard to prove as there are generally no witnesses or concrete evidence.

It doesn’t make concessions for women who can’t complete their pregnancy, because to do so would cause severe mental or emotional distress to the point, in some cases, of resorting to violence against herself or her baby.

“No such condition shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a diagnosis or claim of a mental or emotional condition of the pregnant woman or that the pregnant woman will purposefully engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

This section has not been held in much controversy or debated in many news sites, however some view this as an important section of the law.

“We cannot limit abortions, because this affects lives, not only that of the mother and father, if he’s in the picture, but also the kid who might grow up in an unwanted household or in foster care. And while abortion might be murdering people’s views, so does poverty, it just kills slower,”  junior Yerim Kone said.

Many of the women who receive abortions are in their twenties and receive the abortions before 13 weeks gestation, according to abortion statistics from the CDC.

Lastly, the punishments for receiving or performing an abortion seem to be the same as for general homicide, which in Georgia is life sentence or, if they can prove malice, death penalty.

“For the homicide of a child carried in the womb, the right to recover for the full value of the life of such child shall begin at the point at which a human heartbeat is present,”the new law says.

Alabama’s law seems to come with a harsher reputation, and this is most notably exemplified when they classify the type of crime abortion will now be.

 “An abortion performed in violation of this act is a Class A felony, [which is punishable by] no less than 10 years and no more than life or 99 years,” according to an article published by NOLO.

One part of the text of Alabama’s law discusses past mass genocides and uses it as justification to end the abortions performed in the US, which far exceed the combination of all the events discussed.

“It is estimated that 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered in German concentration camps during World War II; 3,000,000 people were executed by Joseph Stalin’s regime in Soviet gulags; 2,500,000 people were murdered during the Chinese “Great Leap Forward” in 1958; 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970s; and approximately 1,000,000 people were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. All of these are widely acknowledged to have been crimes against humanity. By comparison, more than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973,” the Alabama law states.

The discussion of the past genocides makes the law seem like it’s saving children from the same fate as those who perished in genocides.

Most notably, this law does not make exception to cases of rape or incest, which indicates it’s harsher reputation.

Many civil rights activists and pro-choice voters are hoping to challenge the law.

“It’s clearly a violation with the Supreme Court precedent of Roe v. Wade, I hope it’s challenged in court, and I hope that the court is moderate enough to give the law a fair chance,” sophomore Adele Pasturel said.

This is a similar point to those for which many pro-life activists argue. The precedent of Roe v. Wade prevents states from being able to ban abortion, however the way to overturn this precedent is to pass laws that challenge it and then have it challenged and go to the Supreme Court where the Republican appointed majority will likely overturn Roe v. Wade.

The other states that passed anti-abortion laws follow similar styles, although some allow for abortion in cases of incest and rape, some don’t, some ban abortion after a period of time and some ban after heartbeats are audible. All are hoping to be challenged, and organizations such as the ACLU are working to challenge them.

“The ACLU works every day to stop this attack on reproductive freedom. We may not all feel the same way about abortion, but we can agree that deciding whether and when to become a parent is one of the most private and important decisions a person can make. It is time for politicians to stop interfering and to stop playing politics with women’s health care,” the ACLU said on their website.

As the ACLU mentions briefly, the right to an abortion as determined by Roe v. Wade is based on the idea that Americans have a right to privacy. This precedent goes back to Griswold v. Connecticut which established that people have the right to decide whether to use birth control methods. That was what made Roe v. Wade, it determined that the right to privacy applied to abortion and offered some restrictions in the actual decision.