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An exam room at the Whole Women's Health Clinic, one of the abortion providers that sued the state for a stringent new rule on clinics of its type, in McAllen, Texas.
An exam room at the Whole Women's Health Clinic in McAllen, Texas.JENNIFER WHITNEY / JENNIFER WHITNEY/The New York Times

At the state level, Republicans scramble to approve abortion bans

With a politicized U.S. Supreme Court offering new opportunities, far-right state policymakers appear only too pleased to take their chances.


After Donald Trump and Senate Republicans put Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court, shifting the balance of power on the bench even further to the right, many Republicans recognized the opportunity: GOP officials understandably assumed that it's only a matter of time before Roe v. Wade is overturned.

And with this in mind, as regular readers know, states with GOP-led governments got to work approving sweeping restrictions on reproductive rights, confident that such measures, which stood no realistic chance of withstanding judicial scrutiny before, might now survive court challenges. Alabama, in particular, approved an especially radical anti-abortion law. Georgia soon followed.

Late last year, after Republicans replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, opponents of reproductive rights grew even more optimistic, prompting GOP officials in South Carolina to approve an anti-abortion bill in February.

Those efforts are spreading quickly. Take Arizona, for example.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill that bans the procedure if the woman is seeking it solely because a fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. Doctors who perform an abortion solely because the child has a survivable genetic issue can face felony charges. The proposal also contains a raft of other provisions sought by abortion opponents.

Also yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) "signed a bill to immediately outlaw abortion in Oklahoma if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 case that legalized abortion."

One day earlier, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed a so-called "fetal heartbeat" anti-abortion bill, and two days before that, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed three anti-abortion measures. The Associated Press explained, "The bills ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, require health care providers to give pregnant women the opportunity to view an ultrasound before performing an abortion, and place several restrictions on abortion pills, including requiring that they be administered in-person rather than through telehealth."

In the not-too-distant past, Republicans might think twice about pushing such measures, fearing costly legal fights they were likely to lose, but with a politicized U.S. Supreme Court offering new opportunities, far-right state policymakers appear only too pleased to take their chances.