Antiabortion Groups Prepare Push for Nationwide Ban

Upcoming SCOTUS ruling is expected to weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2022 12:25 PM CDT
Antiabortion Activists Push for Nationwide 'Heartbeat' Bill
Protesters at the Kentucky state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.   (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

With the Supreme Court widely expect to weaken or outright overturn Roe v. Wade in an upcoming decision, antiabortion activists who have long called for the issue to be left up to the states are now pushing for a nationwide law. Activists and some GOP lawmakers tell the Washington Post that while the movement has had success in spurring GOP-led states to ban abortion after 15 weeks, that only covers a small fraction of abortions and they now plan to push for a nationwide "heartbeat" bill banning abortions after six weeks. Sources say Republican Sen. Joni Ernst plans to introduce a heartbeat bill if the top court rules as expected—though actually passing such a bill would require a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a firmly antiabortion Republican president.

A SCOTUS ruling is expected in June in a case related to Mississippi's 15-week law. Activists say they have been encouraged by the success of Texas' strict antiabortion law and with momentum growing, they aim to make abortion a central issue in upcoming election cycles. "This is a whole new ballgame," Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action, tells the Post. "The 50 years of standing at the Supreme Court’s door waiting for something to happen is over." The group, one of America's largest antiabortion organizations, plans to send a letter to every Republican in Congress this week calling for a "heartbeat" bill.

Abortion rights groups, meanwhile, say they hope Democratic votes will be galvanized by what amounts to call for a nationwide abortion ban. Some Democratic-led states have responded to the restrictive laws in other states by expanding abortion rights. Connecticut lawmakers have passed a bill that shields residents from being penalized under other states' anti-abortion laws, NPR reports. "This legislation takes action to protect our state from overreaching laws from others," says Democratic state Sen. Steve Cassano. "As other states pass increasingly restrictive bills, we are countering those bills by protecting residents and visitors alike from others seeking to persecute them." (More abortion stories.)

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