So-called abortion “trigger” laws are already having a significant effect on the availability of the procedure throughout the country. For example, one abortion clinic has already opted to move up the street, just across the state border, to avoid an abortion ban.
In late July, Bristol Women’s Health — an abortion clinic which had been operating in Bristol, Tennessee, for an unknown length of time — moved just north up State Street to Bristol, Virginia, to avoid the abortion ban which went into effect in Tennessee last month after the Supreme Court Dobbs ruling on June 24 returned the issue to individual states.
Diane Derzis, who owns BWH, as well as the clinic in Mississippi at the center of the Dobbs case, said she was determined to reopen BWH just across the state line in Virginia to ensure that women in the region could still procure abortions. The next closest clinic is at least 80 miles away, according to reports.
“It’s like a game of dominoes,” Derzis said. “It’s just a huge swath of states not offering the service any longer, so those women have to go north or west.”
Virginia permits abortion through the second trimester and even into the third trimester under certain conditions. Tennessee, by contrast, now prohibits abortion except in cases in which the life or health of the mother is endangered or the unborn child is not expected to survive the duration of the pregnancy.
Though many outlets have seemingly lamented that differences in state abortion laws have caused new issues of “logistics, legal worries, and local resistance” for new or newly-relocated clinics such as BWH, they have likewise admitted that the differences in state laws are a reflection of differences of opinion regarding abortion.
And many of these differences often coincide with geographical location. According to NBC, there are 12 states with abortion bans already in effect, and the majority of them are clustered in the southern, middle section of the country: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
That seven of those nine states also have Republican governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures indicates that these abortion ban laws resulted because of the will of the voters, not in spite of it.
Virginia also has a Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, who supports restricting abortion after 15 weeks. The commonwealth House of Delegates has a small Republican majority, 52-48, but the state senate has a slim Democrat majority, 21-19. Should the Republicans take control of the Virginia state senate in 2022, then abortion laws there could change as soon as next year.
Voters in four other states will have the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding abortion rights/restrictions at the ballot box this November: California, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont. Kansans already voted to keep abortion legal in their state last month.
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Author: Cortney Weil
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