In what may be the most notable example of “saying the quiet part out loud” in recent memory, anti-abortion activists and lawmakers are now openly strategizing on how to pass a nationwide six-week abortion ban if Republicans retake power in the midterms (which is looking likely).
The Washington Post reports that big players in the anti-abortion movement won’t be satisfied if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, letting individual states decide whether to ban abortion—they want to pass a national ban on abortion after six weeks that would be imposed even in blue states. If such a bill were to pass and be signed into law by a Republican president, it would eliminate the hope of abortion-rights havens and subject millions of pregnancy-capable people to surveillance, criminalization, and the health risks of pregnancy.
While some anti-abortion activists want to pursue abortion bans at 15 weeks—the law at the center of the Supreme Court case and like those recently passed in Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky—others say that doesn’t go far enough. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, which is set to become the first state to successfully copy Texas’s six-week ban, told the Post that Republican senators have had multiple meetings about pursuing a national six-week ban and he would support such legislation. An anonymous source said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) would introduce the bill in the Senate; Ernst didn’t respond to the Post’s request for comment.
Today, Students for Life Action sent a letter to every Republican member of Congress urging them to support a six-week ban. It wouldn’t even be new legislation in the House, where white supremacist former Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced the first nationwide six-week abortion ban in 2017 shortly before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, told the paper that she has spoken to 10 possible Republican presidential candidates, including Trump, and that most of them said they supported a national ban and would make it a centerpiece of any 2024 campaigns.
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If you’re thinking, well this is fucking insane!, it gets worse: Antis’ real, actual end goal is fetal personhood under the 14th Amendment, which would amount to a total ban on abortion nationwide and could outlaw in-vitro fertilization and certain forms of birth control. There are currently 19 Senators and nearly 150 Representatives co-sponsoring a bill that would establish every zygote, embryo, and fetus as a human being, granting them more legal rights than pregnant people.
A national ban can only pass if Republicans retake control of the House, Senate, and Presidency, but it is still an alarming—though somewhat expected—development. And we may still see them introduce it if they take back one or both chambers of Congress after this November’s midterm elections.
It’s going to be absolutely infuriating to hear Democrats tout the specter of a national abortion ban on the campaign trail when they’ve done almost nothing to protect abortion rights—but if people need a solid reason to hold their noses and vote blue, this is a pretty good one.
The revelation of this plot to ban abortion nationwide will likely prompt even more cowardly Democrats to come out against ending the filibuster, aka the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for passing legislation, because Republicans will use it to do things like this. Newsflash: They’ll do it anyway, so you might as well use your fragile hold on power for good, like nuking the dumb rule and passing a national right to access abortion, paid family leave, and a higher minimum wage. You know, things that would actually help people care for their families and expand those families if they wish.