States Get Sneaky With Latest Abortion Restrictions

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Commentary My Body. My Rules.

States Get Sneaky With Latest Abortion Restrictions

Imani Gandy

Efforts to make getting an abortion a pain in the ass continue unabated in states like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

For full coverage of June Medical Services v. Russo, check out our Special Report.

While we’re waiting on pins and needles for the U.S. Supreme Court to hurry up and issue its ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo already, anti-choice lawmakers across the country are full speed ahead when it comes to their never-ending quest to regulate abortion out of existence.

Tennessee, Mississippi, Iowa, Michigan, and Colorado—we’re looking at you. Here’s what you need to know about what these states have been up to lately.

Tennessee

While Tennesseans were asleep late last week, Republicans rammed through an abortion bill with multiple restrictions that are either straight-up unconstitutional or palpably absurd. Or both. 

The bill bans abortion at six weeks’ gestation, before most people even know that they are pregnant and constructs a Russian nesting doll of other gestational limits should the six-week ban be struck down. The bill also contains a speech and display ultrasound requirement—which means that a provider must perform an ultrasound and describe the images to their patients, even if their patients don’t want to see or hear it. This is a live fight in the federal courts, with the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Sixth Circuits in conflict as to whether forcing doctors to parrot state anti-choice ideology is an infringement on their First Amendment rights. The Fourth Circuit said it is. The Sixth Circuit said it isn’t. The Fourth Circuit is correct. Enough said.

The bill also requires that abortion providers lie to their patients about medication abortion by telling them it’s possible to reverse a medication abortion. We could go into the science of it—in fact, we already have—but let’s just leave it at this: Medication abortion is 100 percent not reversible. 

The bill has more terrible parts, including an attempt to prevent minors in state custody from accessing abortion care altogether. And, like Mississippi (more on that later), it bans abortion if the pregnant person is seeking it because of a fetus’ sex, race, or Down syndrome diagnosis.

A lawsuit challenging some of these requirements has already been filed.

Mississippi

Mississippi—always determined to stand up and shout, “We are Mississippi, and we won’t stop Mississippi-ing!”—passed HB 1295, a bill that bans abortion based on race, sex, or genetics.

Anti-choice lawmakers in Mississippi tried to frame this “reason” ban as an attempt to push back against discrimination, extensively citing an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas that is nothing more than fearmongering nonsense about abortion being used as a tool of “modern-day eugenics.” It’s not, so everyone calm down. People who choose to terminate pregnancies because of a genetic anomaly are not participating in eugenics. They are just making a decision about their own individual pregnancy.

As for the race- and sex-selection bans, the sex-selective ban is based on horseshit stereotypes about pregnant people who are AAPI and who are murdering baby girls because their culture supposedly prefers boys. There is no evidence that this sort of thing happens in this country. And the race reason ban is simply asinine. How do you get an abortion based on race? Most people of color who get pregnant understand that the kid they have will also be of color. Unless we’re talking about white women getting abortions after getting down with Black men.

HB 1295 awaits Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ signature, after which you can bet your sweet bananas that a lawsuit will be filed.

Iowa

Two years ago, the Iowa Supreme Court smacked down Iowa Republicans’ efforts to require a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion. Not to be deterred, Iowa passed a 24-hour waiting period bill earlier this month.

*eyeroll*

*dramatic sigh*

Advocates have filed a lawsuit challenging the law.

Michigan

Anti-choice advocates in Michigan have a steep hill to climb, thanks to the looming veto threat from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. So they’ve taken up a different tactic: ballot initiatives.

Despite failing one time already to secure enough signatures to place a ban on the most common form of later abortion on the November ballot, anti-choice advocates were given a second chance to try to prove they had gathered enough valid signatures to put the restriction to voters later this year.  

Colorado

Abortion foes in Colorado have tried and failed so many times to get abortion restrictions passed via ballot measure that we’ve honestly lost track. And come November, anti-choice advocates will have yet another opportunity to lose at the ballot box. 

Voters will consider a measure that bans abortion at 22 weeks with only a narrow exception for the life of a pregnant person. Colorado is one of seven states without gestational limits on when patients can get an abortion, and the measure is designed to root out the state as a destination for patients in need of later abortion care.  

So there you have it. Efforts to make it a pain in the ass to get an abortion continue unabated. We can only wait and hope that when the Supreme Court issues its ruling in June Medical Services, it won’t give anti-choice lawmakers any more ammunition in their war on abortion.