State of the Movement
What is the current US law regarding abortion?
Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey prevent states from restricting abortion before the age of viability (when a baby can survive outside the mother’s body on its own), which is generally considered to be 24 weeks of pregnancy.
What are the current challenges to this law?
- Texas has enacted a law limiting abortion after a pre-born baby’s heartbeat is detected. This law allows anyone to bring a lawsuit in state court against anyone who performs an abortion (or who assists in any way to make one possible). The winner of a lawsuit can receive at least $10,000 in damages along with court costs and attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court conducted hearings regarding a challenge to this law in November 2021 and ultimately allowed it to stand by sending the decision back to the Texas court. Other states are in the process of enacting similar laws.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, will abortion be illegal in the US?
No. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, decisions regarding abortion laws and regulations are sent back to the individual states. It is worth noting that overturning Roe means that the justices have determined that abortion is not and should never have been considered a constitutional right. Although abortions will still occur, we expect that they will decrease, and, consequently, more women and families will be in need of support.
What about abortion in Ohio?
If Roe is overturned, Ohio’s 2018 Heartbeat Bill will go into effect. This will ban all abortions in Ohio after a heartbeat is detected. Lawmakers are currently working on several additional pieces of legislation:
- SB 123 – This bill is currently in the Ohio Senate and intends to make abortion illegal under any circumstance except risk of maternal death or serious bodily harm. The bill would also require that, in those exceptional cases, the doctor must induce labor and try to save the baby.
2. SB 304 and HB 378 – These two bills seek to more strictly regulate the distribution and reporting practices regarding the abortion pill, also known as chemical abortion. HB 378 would also require abortion pill providers to inform their patients of the abortion pill reversal regimen.
3. HB 480 – This bill is modeled after the Texas law and would allow any citizen to sue someone who performs an abortion.
Although these could bring an end to legal abortion in Ohio, they will likely be challenged and will take time to enact. Their success will also depend on the willingness of state and local officials to enforce them.
If the Heartbeat Bill goes into effect, it sounds like Ohio women may only have 2 weeks to make a decision once she realizes she’s pregnant. What does that timeline look like?
Here are the basics: Day 1 is the first day of a woman’s period. Day 14 is ovulation. Day 15 is conception (within 24 hours of ovulation). Day 20-24 is when the blastocysts implants in the uterus. Day 28 (roughly week 4) is when the women typically misses her period and suspects she might be pregnant. It may take her several more days to realize she’s pregnant. At 6 weeks, her baby’s heartbeat can be detected via ultrasound.
If abortion is banned in Ohio, will we still need Pregnancy Resource Centers like ENLC?
Absolutely! Pro-life advocates love to use the slogan, “Love them both. Choose life!” We at ENLC have long served women with the belief that mother and baby are both equally valuable and important, and now is the perfect time to show we truly mean that. Unintended pregnancies will still occur, no matter what is happening in politics. We must continue to be there for women who feel they have nowhere to turn.
What challenges does ENLC expect?
Based on the experiences of our friends in Texas, we anticipate serving a higher percentage of women in crisis. Women who have grown up with abortion readily available to them will likely experience a heightened sense of urgency and confusion when trying to make pregnancy decisions. We also expect that abortion advocates will continue to promote the abortion pill regimen, shipping it over state lines despite state laws. They are using deceptive tactics such as calling it a “missed period pill” or a “cycle regulation pill” to circumvent current or potential laws. Another concern is the security of our staff, clients, and property in the midst of sometimes violent protests led by abortion activists.
How does ENLC plan to navigate this new phase of the pro-life movement?
First and foremost, we are committing to fervent prayer. This is a spiritual battle for lives and souls. Second, we are adapting our medical policies and staff training to address challenges presented by changing client needs as well as increases in chemical abortion (abortion pill) usage. We are also currently strategizing ways to offer additional services as well as to increase open hours and staff coverage for our Women’s Centers. Finally, our physical and cyber security systems will be updated to ensure safety in the face of possible hostilities.
Through all of this, we have one clear goal: To continue offering loving, compassionate care to every woman and man who walks through our doors. As their needs become more complex or take on a new form, we will stand ready to surround them with the personal and practical assistance they need to choose life and thrive as mothers, fathers, and families.