The Republican Party’s move to extremist positions predates Trump; if anything, you can blame the likes of Sen. Mitch McConnell for elevating state-by-state conservative extremism into the party’s newly national stock in trade. With the arrival of two new hard-right Supreme Court justices, Republican lawmakers in Republican-held states are wasting no time in challenging long-held court precedents with the specific intent of overturning past protections in bulk.
Foremost on the agenda: Overturning Roe v. Wade. Not chipping away, not adjusting the edges, but undoing prior protections for American women seeking abortions in near-totality.
“What we’re seeing is unprecedented in the sense that we’ve never seen this many near-total abortion bans moving through state legislatures and getting enacted,” [Guttmacher Institute analyst Elizabeth Nash] said in a phone interview. “What we typically see is legislation that places further restrictions on abortion, makes it harder to get to the clinic, makes it harder to keep the clinic doors open. This is a real shift in the strategy and moving toward near-total and total abortion bans.”
The Supreme Court will have their choice of vehicles to revisit abortion protections. In Georgia, a new Republican-pushed bill bans nearly all abortions after six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant. Republicans pushing a similar bill in Alabama are attempting to force the bill through without so much as the usual token exceptions for victims of rape and incest.
Not content with matching southern Republican extremism or with their state’s own six-week abortion ban, Ohio Republicans are now pushing forward a ban on multiple methods of birth control as well. The bill, which criminalizes any birth control method that may interfere with a “fertilized egg” implanting in the uterus, would also mandate women suffering from an ectopic pregnancy—a potentially deadly condition—receive surgery to re-implant the egg in the uterus, an operation that does not currently exist.
We do not know whether the Supreme Court will reverse prior precedents to grant each of these states the extremist positions state Republicans are now insisting on, but the language of the bills suggests supreme confidence on the part of conservatives that the court is ready to go very far indeed toward state-by-state bans on all abortions, in all circumstances. If they are right and “moderates” like Sen. Susan Collins are wrong, they may get their wish.
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