In a scathing statement released today, 373 state legislators from 46 states denounced the extreme abortion bans being passed by state lawmakers across the country.
“The 2019 state attacks on the legal right to abortion are a crisis,” the lawmakers declared in their joint statement. “As state legislators from around the country and members of the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, we condemn this coordinated political strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade and are outraged by efforts to criminalize doctors or patients seeking abortion care. “
The powerful declaration from the Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, a first-of-its-kind national network of over 350 pro-choice state legislators convened by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), comes in the wake of two weeks of non-stop attacks on abortion by state legislators and in the midst of individual efforts by state and local lawmakers to fight back against the growing numbers of laws threatening women’s bodily autonomy.
“We envision a nation in which each of us can make our own decisions about our reproductive health, pregnancy and parenting, free from political interference,” the Council continued. “We’re calling on our fellow legislators, governors and the courts to stop these abortion bans and instead take action to ensure all people can access reproductive health care with dignity and respect, no matter where they live or the size of their bank account. We respect the sacred duty of public office and we honor our charge to act for a better future for our constituents and communities—and that means protecting abortion rights.”
In 2019 alone, nearly 30 bans on abortion have been introduced, passed or signed into law by state lawmakers and Governors across the country. Most recently, Georgia banned abortion at six weeks, criminalizing even women who cross state lines to obtain care; in Alabama, a ban on all abortion from the moment of conception signed into law last week also threatened providers with felony charges and up to 99 years in prison. Missouri lawmakers just passed an eight-week ban, and Louisiana is attempting to pass a six-week ban; in both states, the Governors have indicated that they plan to sign them into law as soon as they reach their desks.
This isn’t a new trend: More than 400 state-level abortion restrictions have been enacted since 2011, and abortion is the most heavily-regulated health care service in the country. The measures mentioned above echo similar laws passed in Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio—and pending bills in Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina and West Virginia.
“Anti-abortion state legislators are are emboldened by the extremists in power in Washington and are running scared of the momentum demonstrated by women voters across the country,” Kelly Baden, Director of Reproductive Rights for SiX, said in a statement. “Enacting bans on abortion, whether they are all-out bans like Alabama or near-complete bans like Georgia, flies in the face of common sense, public health and Americans’ support for reproductive dignity and autonomy.”