The State of Abortion: Bans Passed in FL and OK Will Harm Survivors
As Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about how the changing landscape of abortion access deeply impacts survivors of sexual violence. Abortion bans and restrictions take the pervasive threat of sexual violence and make it even more terrifying. Taking decisions away from people by forcing them to carry a pregnancy they do not want– especially when they have already had their bodily autonomy violated–poses another kind of insidious violence. One in which interpersonal violence is mirrored and reinforced by state violence against survivors and pregnant people.
Oklahoma Senator Julie Daniels went as far as to say that “it doesn’t bother” her that under OK’s abortion ban an abuser could have up to six years to sue a survivor for receiving abortion care.
We cannot sit by while legislators force people into pregnancy and childbirth by taking this deeply personal choice away from them. With every law and restriction that is passed, we must bring to mind how these laws will harm survivors.
Let’s get into the State of Abortion.
The bad news
Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s 15-week abortion ban into law, and it is slated to go into effect July 1. If you live in Florida, you still have the right to obtain an abortion up (until 24 weeks of your pregnancy). The ACLU has indicated they will mount a legal challenge against the ban.
Idaho politicians are intervening in a court case challenging the state’s newly enacted Texas-style bounty hunter abortion ban. The courts have currently blocked the law from going into effect, but politicians intervening in the case are hoping they can reinstate the abortion ban.
Donate to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.
The Oklahoma legislature just passed an abortion ban modelled after Texas’s six-week ban, with no discussion or debate. The bill now heads to the governor for signature and will go into effect immediately upon signature. Planned Parenthood has announced they are planning to challenge this ban in court.
The good news
The California legislature is considering legislation to make it easier for their residents and those coming from out-of-state to access abortions.
Despite these worthy aims of becoming a haven state, we must remember that sanctuary states are no replacement for easily accessible care in a person’s home state.
Connecticut lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill that would increase the types of medical professionals allowed to provide certain types of abortion care. Governor Ned Lamont said he would sign this legislation if it came to his desk, with the goal of destigmatizing abortion and giving patients better access to reproductive heath care.
A court order came through temporarily blocking Kentucky’s latest law on abortion that forced all remaining (two) clinics to close because they could not meet the restrictions. For a week, abortion was effectively banned in the state of Kentucky, but clinics have resumed providing abortion care. (However, Kentucky still has a gestational ban and other restrictions.)
Even though a federal judge has granted temporary reprieve for Kentucky residents, it is terrifying that lawmakers cut off access to abortion for an entire week, giving its residents a glimpse into a completely post-Roe world.
The Massachusetts House passed a budget amendment including funding for abortion access and abortion funds. If passed, this would be the first time in history MA has invested budget funds in abortion funds.
What was bad two weeks ago is still bad, and the state laws being passed to protect abortion access are a stark reminder that there is a schism in this country between where people can access reproductive health care and where they are at risk of forced pregnancy if they have the potential to become pregnant. This marks a clear, systemic violation of bodily autonomy by state legislators that puts everyone–especially survivors–at risk.
The anxiety Kentucky residents were put under for the week in which they were cut off from all in-clinic abortion access is becoming an ever-present reality for many–especially in states in which governors and legislators are consistently and systematically attacking and violating people’s bodily autonomy.
As we close out Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we have to remain vigilant in the fight to protect reproductive rights. Because the people in charge of protecting us? Could not be bothered to care, and are actively perpetuating violence against our bodies.