Abortion Foes Focus on States

As the 2008 elections approach, anti-abortion activists have turned their attention to states. 11 abortion bans were introduced in states legislatures last year, according to US News and World Report. Voters in several states will also face anti-abortion ballot initiatives. Anti-abortion activists are promoting a variety of anti-abortion initiatives, from fetus “personhood” to so-called coerced abortions.

In Colorado, anti-abortion activists are working to place a ballot initiative on the November 2008 state ballot that amend the state constitution to define a fertilized egg as a person, thus extending constitutional protections to fertilized eggs. If passed, the initiative would also threaten the contraceptives used by millions of women, including the IUD and emergency contraceptives. Colorado for Equal Rights, the anti-abortion group advocating the initiative, now has until May to collect 76,000 signatures in order to place the initiative on the November 2008 ballot.

In Missouri, the Elliot Group, an anti-abortion group based out of Springfield, Illinois, is seeking to add a ballot initiative to the Missouri state ballot that would address what they claim are the long-term physical, psychological and emotional problems caused by abortion. Anti-abortion activists must gather 90,000 signatures to place the initiative on the 2008 ballot.

The Missouri ballot initiative, the so-called “Prevention of Coerced and Unsafe Abortion Act,” would require doctors to extensively review any so-called medical literature on abortion and investigate each patient’s background and lifestyle. It also would require doctors to certify that the abortion was necessary to avoid a woman’s death or prevent permanent disability. The proposal would subject doctors to lawsuits from women who later regretted their decision to terminate a pregnancy, and would offer no exception whatsoever for the victims of rape or incest.

Roe v Wade turns 35 this month, and reproductive choice is under fire across the country. While federal constitutional rights under Roe v Wade, as long as the Supreme Court upholds it, would keep abortion legal in the US, such deceptive state efforts are designed to put state laws in place to make abortion illegal if and when Roe is reversed. And the Colorado measure goes further, threatening the legality of commonly used contraceptives.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Who Decides 2006 report (PDF), “15 states already have bans on abortion throughout pregnancy that may become enforceable if Roe is overturned: AL, AZ, AR, CO, DE, LA, MA, MI, MS, NM, OK, UT, VT, WV, WI. 11 states have laws on the books expressing an intention to outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned, or similar anti-choice policy positions, sometimes called “trigger laws”: AR, ID, IL, KY, LA, MO, NE, ND, PA, SD, UT.”


US News and World Report 1/3/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 12/3/07, 11/16/07; Who Decides 2006 Report

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