With the nation embroiled in intense debate over spending and the economy, social issues have taken a backseat to fiscal battles. However, despite the lack of visibility, numerous abortion related campaigns are ongoing around the nation. After decades of futile attempts to stack the Supreme Court with anti-abortion judges, opponents of abortion have switched tactics and are pursuing a variety of legislative strategies at the state level. Common strategies are the limiting of the time period when an abortion can be performed, and attempts to influence the mother to keep the fetus.
South Dakota has just passed a law that implements a three day waiting period before an abortion, and will force women to undergo mandatory counseling at an anti-abortion pregnancy center. Another bill aimed at dissuading women from going through with abortions seems likely to pass in Florida. That bill mandates that women undergo an ultrasound and have the images of the fetus described to them.
Other bills attempt to limit the availability window of abortion. In Idaho, the state house passed a law that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, except for cases when the mothers health or life are in jeopardy. The law was strongly criticized by abortion advocacy groups over the lack of a rape or incest exception. More radical bills are being considered in Alabama and Ohio. In the Heart of Dixie, lawmakers are considering a personhood bill defining a fetus as a legal person, therefore directly challenging Roe v. Wade. In Ohio the legislature is looking at a heartbeat bill that would ban all abortions after the fetus develops a heartbeat. Since a fetal heartbeat can be detected six to eight weeks into the pregnancy, this law would effectively stop abortion in Ohio.
All of these laws are likely to face legal challenge from pro-abortion groups and wind their way up the legal system with the Supreme Court ultimately deciding the full extent of Roe v. Wade, and the limits states can place on abortion. The next few years will be critical in determining the full extent of abortion rights in America, but with the nation split down the middle on the issue, a resolution to this culture battle seems unlikely in our lifetime.