Republicans Will Try To Ban Abortion Nationwide If Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade, Report Reveals
By: Alison Durkee (Forbes)
So much for the Republican lie that abortion should be a decision left to the states.
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The fight over abortion restrictions could soon go from statehouses to Capitol Hill, as the Washington Postreports Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion rights activists are working to enact a federal abortion ban if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer as expected and the GOP regains control of Congress.
Women rights activists march to the U.S. Capitol during the annual Womens March October 2, 2021 in ... [+] Washington, DC.
Republican senators have met to discuss legislation that would ban abortion nationwide, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told the Post, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) would reportedly likely introduce the bill.
Anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List are working to garner support for the legislation, and have met with Republican contenders for the 2024 presidential nomination about such a ban, including former President Donald Trump.
"Most of" the potential candidates support the ban and would make it a "centerpiece" of their campaign, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told the Post.
A federal abortion ban could restrict the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, based on current proposals, with anti-abortion advocates believing a 15-week ban wouldn't go far enough.
While many states are already taking steps to ban abortion—even before the Supreme Court rules—a federal law would stop those seeking abortions from being able to obtain one by traveling out of state, and overrule legislation in Democratic-led states that enshrines the right to the procedure.
A coalition of anti-abortion groups led by Students for Life Action wrote to every GOP lawmaker in Congress Monday, calling this a "pivotal moment in which almost anything is possible" when it comes to abortion restrictions. "We ask you to join us in ensuring that the strongest measures possible are employed" to ban abortions, the letter reads.
"By [Republicans] saying out loud that their goal is to push a nationwide abortion ban, it makes it clear that we have to elect more pro-reproductive health champions on the national level and in the states," Planned Parenthood Action Fund executive director Kelley Robinson told the Post, calling the federal proposal "terrifying."
60%. That's the approximate share of Americans who oppose Roe v. Wade being overturned, according to multiple recent polls. Polling has consistently shown a majority of Americans support legal access to abortion, though higher shares are willing to back restrictions on the procedure later into a pregnancy.
What To Watch For
Whether Republicans will get the chance to take action. The Supreme Court is now deliberating in a case on Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, which will broadly consider whether states can restrict abortion. A ruling is expected by late June, when the court's term wraps up, though issuing decisions could stretch into early July. Justices signaled during oral arguments that they're likely to side with Mississippi, but it still remains unclear whether they'll narrowly uphold the 15-week ban or go further and overturn Roe v. Wade entirely. Republicans' fate will then depend on the midterm elections in November, where the GOP stands a chance to take back the House and Senate.
What We Don't Know
Whether a federal abortion ban could actually be enacted, as even if Republicans gain control of Congress, they still face long odds. An abortion ban would need 60 votes to pass the Senate, which remains unlikely, as the Post notes even some GOP lawmakers could vote against the ban. Even if it passes, any legislation would likely be subject to legal challenges.
The potential federal ban comes as Republican-led states have become increasingly emboldened to take action against abortion as the Supreme Court decision looms. States enacted more than 100 abortion restrictions in 2021 alone, according to the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute, with another 33 so far enacted in 2022 as of April 15. Texas imposed the most severe restrictions in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 when its six-week abortion ban took effect in September, which courts have so far allowed to stand. Idaho and Oklahoma have already followed Texas by passing similar bans of their own, in addition to a separate Oklahoma ban that makes performing an abortion a felony. Idaho's measure has been blocked in court, however, as has a law in Kentucky that effectively banned all abortions in the state.