ARE WOMEN ACTUALLY HUMAN BEINGS UNDER THE LAW? Access to Abortion Is on Trial IN SOUTH.
Abortion is on trial this week in Alabama. Technically speaking, the witnesses are appearing before federal District Judge Myron Thompson to discuss a new state law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. That sounds reasonable, I know, but it isn’t, and it’s also not what’s at stake. This trial is about whether poor women in red (and even purple) states will continue to have access to abortion, or whether some states will succeed in shutting down every clinic within driving distance, all in the name of protecting women (from themselves).
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.
We’ve reached the Rubicon, and if we cross it, abortion clinics will disappear from parts of the U.S. map. The weirdest thing is that the whole script has been written for an audience of one—Supreme Court swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy. He isn’t in the courtroom to hear the testimony. But he’s the person whose view ultimately matters.
Alabama’s law is cheerily called the Women’s Health and Safety Act. It’s based on a model bill, written by Washington, D.C., anti-abortion groups and their lawyers, which has passed in whole or part in a slew of states. Over the last 40 years, the states have tried many ways to limit abortion. They’ve imposed waiting periods. Required parental consent for minors. Required ultrasounds. Stopped Medicaid from paying for the procedure. Limited private insurance coverage. Banned particular late-term procedures.