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4 states just passed anti-abortion bills on the same day

It's another sign of the intensifying battle over reproductive health in state legislatures

by Carter Sherman
Mar 14 2019, 3:24pm

Four states passed legislation to oppose abortion access on Wednesday, another sign of the intensifying battle over reproductive health in state legislatures this year.

State legislatures in Arkansas and Utah passed bans on abortion after 18 weeks of pregnancy, while Kentucky lawmakers voted to prohibit people from getting abortions due to the fetus’ “sex, race, color, national origin, or disability,” such as Down syndrome.

Meanwhile, Kansas legislators sent a message to their counterparts in New York about their new law to protect New Yorkers’ right to an abortion even if that right disappears at the federal level. The Kansas Legislature, which is dominated by conservatives, passed a resolution condemning New York for purportedly “violating the fundamental principles and values of the state of Kansas and of this nation.”

They plan to send the resolution to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and every member of the New York state Legislature.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the bench last fall has made the Supreme Court more conservative-leaning, and anti-abortion advocates across the country are now jockeying to give the justices a vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide — or to at least chip away at its protections.

Even though Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has not yet said whether he’ll sign the state’s 18-week abortion ban, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah has already promised to sue over it. (The ban wouldn’t apply to cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency.) The ACLU of Kentucky has also pledged to sue if its state’s anti-abortion legislation becomes law.

“We will see the state of Kentucky in court (again) after they attempt to ban abortion (again),” the civil rights group tweeted.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has said that he supports his state’s 18-week ban, which would allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest. He also believes it will survive any court challenge.

“It’s within the second trimester that states are allowed to pass restrictions on, and this, with the science we have today, it seems like a very appropriate restriction,” Hutchinson said, according to Time.

Arkansas has already banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It’s only the second state to have such a restriction take effect, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Lawsuits have, so far, halted every state attempt to enact laws that would ban abortion earlier in the pregnancy.

Cover: A woman carries an anti-abortion sign on her back during a rally at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

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