Senators in Vermont have introduced a new bill that would recognize a woman’s right to have an abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is repealed. According to RH Reality Check, the bill, S.315, would repeal old state statutes predating Roe v. Wade that criminalize conducting an abortion or advertising abortion services.
The bill was introduced by state Sens. Tim Ashe (D), Christopher Bray (D), Sally Fox (D), Virginia Lyons (D), Dick McCormack (D), and David Zuckerman (P).
The statutes predate Roe v. Wade and are therefore unenforceable; however, if the 1973 Supreme Court decision was repealed, the old laws would still be applicable. By repealing the old statutes, legislators will ensure the protection of women’s reproductive rights regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court. According to the bill,
As the State of Vermont implements major health care reform, it should be a public policy goal to enhance the health of all citizens, including women of all ages, and to strengthen individuals and families by encouraging and promoting access to comprehensive reproductive health services, to prenatal support services that help ensure that planned pregnancies remain healthy throughout their entire term, and to safe and legal abortion.
While a record number of abortion restrictions have been enacted during the past few years, and the war on women’s rights has escalated across the country, a handful of states have attempted to protect women’s rights. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a comprehensive package of women’s health laws – the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health.
This week in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) restated his support for the Women’s Equality Agenda, a 10-point plan introduced last year that includes safeguarding women’s reproductive health by codifying Roe v. Wade into New York State law.
“Since last year, nothing has changed,” Cuomo said during his State of the State address on Wednesday. “Discrimination against women still exists. It’s just been another year when government has failed to act and protect women. Stop playing politics with women’s rights.”
In October, the state of California passed the first law in nearly a decade to expand access to abortion. Before, the last state to expand access to the procedure was Hawaii, which passed a law in 2006 to keep abortion legal even if Roe is overturned.
Meanwhile, four states – Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have enacted laws that will automatically ban abortion if Roe is ever overturned. And twelve states still retain their pre-Roe laws banning abortion, which would be effective if Roe was overturned.
A recent report by the Guttmacher Institute notes that 22 states enacted 70 abortion restrictions during 2013, which makes last year second only to 2011 in number of new abortion restrictions enacted during a single year. Two hundred five abortion restrictions were enacted during 2011, 2012, and 2013 – more than the total number of restrictions enacted during the entire previous decade.
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.