As of now, 10 states have 'trigger laws' that will automatically make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
With Donald Trump's appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, an anti-abortion right-wing radical, to the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-abortion legislators in conservative states are looking to push through extreme abortion bans in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned by the court.
In Ohio, for example, legislators are using the lame-duck session to push a "trigger ban," a type of law that would automatically ban abortion in the state if Roe were overturned.
The bill is being pushed by the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life, which sees Barrett's confirmation to the court as the perfect opportunity to be more aggressive with anti-abortion legislation.
"We have said over the last 12 years that we want to end abortion, and we know how to get there is to go incrementally and let the courts weigh in," said Mike Gonidakis, president of the anti-abortion group.
"Now we have the court," he added. "We can be more aggressive now, and take a finer approach to the heart of Roe vs. Wade."
As of now, 10 states have trigger laws that would automatically make abortion illegal or almost entirely illegal if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe.
States approach such laws in various ways. In Mississippi, for example, there is a law on the books that takes effect 10 days after Roe is no longer the law of the land.
Wisconsin never removed its pre-Roe prohibition from the books. In theory, that could mean the law would simply take effect again once Roe was gone.
In Louisiana, a law passed in 2006 would automatically ban abortions if Roe were overturned.
Ohio's bill would ban all abortions immediately upon a reversal of Roe, save for those determined to be necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant person or a "serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman." The bill explicitly states that an abortion cannot be considered necessary on the basis of mental health, only physical.
Unless there is a "medical emergency," which the bill fails to define, two physicians must agree that the abortion is necessary to prevent the death or serious injury of the pregnant person.
The doctor who performs the abortion in these circumstances must also use a method "that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive" unless that method creates a greater risk of death to the pregnant person. The second doctor must be in the room when the abortion is performed "to take control of, provide immediate medical care for, and take all reasonable steps necessary to preserve the life and health of the unborn child."
So, in a situation in which a person is going to die if they do not have an abortion — but it is somehow still not an emergency — doctors must (1) find another doctor to agree with them about their diagnosis; (2) get that second doctor to the same location as the first doctor; and (3) engage in an additional delay to determine which procedure might best let the fetus survive rather than using what would most efficiently and quickly save the life of the patient.
And if doctors don't do all this? It's a felony.
The bill's sponsor, GOP Ohio state Rep. John Becker, is a familiar face to reproductive health activists. In 2019, he introduced a bill that would have required people with an ectopic pregnancy — a dangerous and life-threatening condition that occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus — to undergo a procedure to "reimplant" the fertilized egg. The problem with that proposal is that such a procedure does not exist.
The same 2019 bill also targeted common birth control methods. When that was pointed out to Becker, he blithely stated that drug manufacturers would just have to alter how birth control works if his bill passed.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.