What You NEED to Know about Reproductive Rights

Recently, here, in the United States the landmark case of 1973 Roe v. Wade has been called into question by the newly written legislation that are being voted on in some conservative states. Some states include Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama pass laws banning abortion, some without exceptions and with the strictest laws the country has ever seen.

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In April, Ohio passed a bill which outlaws all abortion in all forms without allowing for exceptions in cases of rape or incest. This was signed by Republican Governor Mike DeWine who took office this past January. According to CBS News in an article written by Katie Smith, this is not the first attempt for the Ohio legislature to pass such laws banning abortion, because bills similar to this “heartbeat bill” were vetoed twice in the past by GOP Governor John Kasich before Gov. DeWine took office. Smith even begins her article with an example of an impregnated 11 year-old rape victim explaining that, although this law does not apply to her case, after 2020, the thousands of women who are raped or sexually assaulted each year in Ohio would have no choice but to give birth to the rapist’s child. In 2015, “there were a total of 8,447 victims” as reported by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services with the average age of the victims found to be 18 years old. This bill essentially seals the fate of these victims’ lives without their consent or opinion on the matter.

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These types of bills, dubbed as “heartbeat bills,” prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat is first detected, which is typically between the first five to six weeks that a woman is pregnant –normally before one is aware they are pregnant. The bottom line of this bill is the inability for survivor of sexual assault, rape, or incest have no choice but to give birth to the child regardless of what they have experienced.

Last week, in Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp signed a similar bill as the aforementioned. Not only has this bill gone unsupported by the American Civil Liberties Union but Andrea Young, the executive director of the organization, has explained that it will be challenged by the organization in court. This bill is also being protested by women as CNN reports, “Outside the Capitol, dozens protested the legislation Tuesday morning – including four women dressed in red cloaks in the style of The Handmaid’s Tale. Those four stood in silent protest, holding signs with various messages, including 'Trust Women.' "

Protestors are viewing these bills as “anti-women” and sexist. These types of bills call into question the future and the fate of the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in the 1970s, considering that the Supreme Court currently has a Republican majority. This bill, in comparison to that of Ohio, does indicate exceptions when a woman’s health is at risk and/or a victim of sexual assault.

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Most recently, Alabama planned to reconvene Tuesday May 14th as the debate was postponed from last week. After the reopening of the debate on Tuesday, the House passed this bill, which is similar to the “heartbeat bills” of other states such as Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi. As stated in an article written by Timothy Williams and Alan Blinder in The New York Times, this bill will ban abortion in almost all cases and deem abortions as a felony, criminalizing all doctors who perform them. These bills show the Republican attempts to reverse the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, which recognized women’s rights to end a pregnancy.