- Natalie Milewski
Arizona & Florida Legislatures Introduce Anti-Abortion Bills
Following suit to the highly controversial Texas abortion ban, Arizona and Florida have introduced their own anti-abortion laws. Roe v. Wade, considered the super-precedent of all Supreme Court rulings, is what these two laws are looking to begin to overturn. Roe v. Wade granted the right to an abortion without excessive government restriction. This law was and still is one of the most controversial laws this generation has seen, and the conversations surrounding it will not cease with the upcoming regulations.
The "Texas Heartbeat Act," also known as SB 8, details that abortion is unlawful if the woman seeking the abortion is detected at least six weeks pregnant with a fetal heartbeat. Unfortunately, many women remain unaware of their pregnancy at six weeks. It also calls for those who assist, aid, and perform abortions to be sued for up to $10,000 by anyone in the country. These are just two of the major highlights of the law’s provisions. However, an exemption of medical emergency is included in this law that allows physicians to deem if abortion is necessary.
The Supreme Court upheld the Texas abortion law on September 1 with a 5-4 split. President Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed discontent against the ruling. Also, the Justice Department sued Texas over SB 8, hoping that the Texas courts would block this law on September 9. Since then, a district court judge temporarily blocked the law in Texas, stating, “women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that the Constitution protects.” However, it took less than 48 hours for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative circuit courts, to reinstate SB 8 on October 8.
Photo Courtesy: Miami Herald
Arizona’s legislative proposal SB 1457 closely aligns with aspects of Texas’ law but differs in others. In comparison, this law requires that any medical professional with knowledge of abortion report it or be subject to the same $10,000 fee along with legal fees. Next, Section 4 states that public education institutions cannot counsel in favor of abortion, refer someone to an abortion, or perform/provide the service. Finally, the case of genetic abnormalities is what the eight Republican senators who signed this bill are looking to make their case on. This law provides a provision that no woman can receive an abortion based on the “presence or presumed of an abnormal gene expression in an unborn child.” Since this law was presented, USA Today reported that a federal judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of the law due to it promoting “self-mandated misinformation” The judge also called this law “troubling.”
Florida’s law, HB 167, also known as the ‘Florida Heartbeat Act’ contains interesting provisions that Arizona and Texas both did not include in their laws. Specifically, Section 3 requires the physician to go over all possible risks of the procedure, obtaining it or not. This creates the narrative of anti-abortion lectures in doctor’s offices, which could deter women from seeking out abortions in the future. Furthermore, ultrasound providers “must provide the woman an opportunity to view the live ultrasound images and hear an explanation about them.” While a woman can decline this offer, she must sign a form acknowledging that she made that decision of her own free will. Another peculiar section of this law is one pertaining to the information given to the patient within 24 hours of a request for an abortion. This includes the provider providing pamphlets, education materials about the effects of abortion, and alternative options.
These three laws working their way through the courts seek one thing, to overtime the landmark case Roe v. Wade. The question moving forward is, will the conservative-dominated Supreme Court be able to overturn it? Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative justice, dissented on SB 8 and sided with the three liberal justices, Justice Sotomayor, Justice Kagan, and Justice Breyer. It is possible that the other justices will not follow suit in defending the super precedent, but a split in the court to uphold the precedent could still happen.
The larger implications of these laws are far more critical than the politicization of abortion. Women for generations had sought out unsafe abortions when they were not medically provided to them. In 2020, the World Health Organization stated that 1 in 3 abortions are done in less than safe or dangerous conditions before introducing these restrictive laws.
President Biden, a staunch supporter of Roe v. Wade, said of Texas’ law:, “And the most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards to go out and to —” However, comments like this from senior leadership in the Democratic party and the president have not deterred other Republican states like South Carolina and Mississippi from discussing the beginning of their fight against abortion in courts. Sen. Larry Grooms (R-SC) stated, “If the Texas legislation stands a greater chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court, certainly we would move to pass legislation that would mirror what Texas did.” Grooms suggested that Texas is just a blueprint for all Republican states, as we have seen with Florida and Arizona thus far.
As the Texas Heartbeat Act remains in effect, a spew of challengers in court ensure the legal and political fight between pro-choice and pro-life will intensify.