Right now, there is a lot of confusion over abortion access in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The ruling made access to abortion a federal right guaranteed under the Constitution. The most recent ruling allows individual states to decide whether abortion is illegal. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed a sweeping ban that would make it illegal to have an abortion under any circumstances after 15 weeks. There is no exception for victims of rape, incest, or human trafficking.
The worst-case scenario is that individual women could be charged with manslaughter or first-degree murder if they miscarry a baby. As of right now, there are is no crime related to an individual receiving an abortion. The law makes it illegal to provide abortions to women in the state after 15 weeks. The law would also require any woman receiving an abortion to watch a video or something about how abortion is bad.
So, what happens if a woman miscarries her baby? Can the police investigate the matter by collecting medical evidence from the woman? Are they allowed to perform invasive tests on the most sensitive area of her body? If so, is her consent required or does that constitute medical battery? If her consent is not required, is the state partaking in sexual battery simply to deny a woman access to abortion?
The stakes are actually huge for American citizens. All of this may seem fine when you imagine an irresponsible person ending up pregnant after a night of fun, but what about the woman who miscarried? Can she be charged with murder for drinking alcohol or not caring for herself properly? Do doctors get to dictate what you can and cannot do when you’re pregnant? If you don’t listen to the recommendations of your doctor, can you now get sent to prison?
Prior to Roe v. Wade abortion was illegal in most states. A few decades earlier, abortion was a felony in every state in the U.S. A New York State law made it a felony to get an abortion after “quickening” (which referred to fetal movement) and a misdemeanor to get an abortion prior to quickening.
Additionally, making abortifacient medication illegal is certainly possible, today we have Amazon. Anyone from any state can purchase a product online and have it delivered to their home. How do states prevent access to this medication if they want abortion to remain illegal?
The early phase of post-Roe v. Wade is likely to target providers before they target individual abortion seekers. Nonetheless, the dust hasn’t settled yet and the rhetoric of anti-abortion activists brooks no compromise. Eventually, there will be a law that equates abortion to murder. It’s likely that the laws will become more aggressive once anti-abortion activists get settled into the new normal.
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