WASHINGTON: Abortion became illegal in three more US states on Thursday, further restricting access to elective terminations for millions of women despite some signs of popular and judicial pushback.
Two months after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion, nearly 21 million women have already lost access to the procedure in their home states, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
And with Idaho, Tennessee and Texas joining 10 other Republican-controlled states on Thursday in implementing near-total bans on abortion, that number is set to rise. Another dozen states are expected to follow suit with their own restrictions.
The laws in Idaho, Tennessee and Texas were “triggered” after the Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision enshrining a woman’s right to an abortion and allowed states to set their own laws.
In Texas, under the new law, doctors could face life in prison and a fine of no less than $100,000 for performing an abortion. Texas and Tennessee make no exceptions for rape or incest, though Idaho does.
State restrictions range from total bans on elective abortions to bans after six weeks, when many women do not even know they are pregnant. Many women have already been forced to travel hundreds of miles to obtain the procedure in other states.
Democratic President Joe Biden condemned the ruling by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court and has pledged to do everything within his power to ensure access to abortion.
The Biden administration notched up a narrow victory in Idaho on Wednesday when a judge ruled that federal law requires doctors to provide abortions to women suffering medical emergencies at hospitals that receive Medicare funding from the government.
In an illustration of the complicated legal landscape, however, a judge in Texas, an appointee of Republican Donald Trump, issued a contrary ruling in a similar case, setting the stage for further court battles.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre welcomed the outcome in Idaho but called the Texas ruling a “devastating decision for women in that state, who can now be denied the same life-saving care.”
Besides battling in the courts, Democrats are hoping abortion will be a galvanizing issue for their candidates in the upcoming midterm elections.
US voters will decide control of Congress in November, with all 435 House seats up for grabs, as well as 35 of the 100 Senate seats and the governor’s mansion in 36 out of 50 states.