Social Navigation

From the death penalty to a ban on certain pills — the U.S. abortion row is ramping up


The US Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, paving the way for bitter protests and a series of bills and new laws seeking to restrict abortions. While some states have taken steps to protect women’s rights in this regard – or even expand access – others appear to have taken some decisive steps in the opposite direction. From a proposed death penalty to restricting access to abortion pills — here’s a look at some of the “anti-abortion steps” that have surfaced so far.

It is pertinent to note here that several of these state laws have been challenged in courts and some are currently on hold or in limbo.

Abortion bans of varying duration

In the past year, numerous states have enforced bans that take effect at different times during a pregnancy. Thirteen states now enforce a ban on abortion at any time during pregnancy, while Georgia bans it as soon as heart activity can be detected, or after about six weeks of gestation.

A proposal to ban abortions after six weeks in Florida received overwhelming approval from a state House committee on Thursday, with Democrats acknowledging there was nothing they could do to prevent it from eventually becoming law. The proposal is moving forward while a 15-week abortion ban — signed last year by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis — still faces legal challenge.

Death penalty for abortions

In January of this year, South Carolina Republicans co-sponsored a bill that would apply the state’s murder laws to people who have abortions. Simply put, the bill — already referred to the State House Judiciary Committee — would have equated women who have abortions with those found guilty of murder, which carries the death penalty. As the legislature gained prominence, the lawmakers who supported it dwindled — dropping from 24 to 15 last week. Some Republican leaders have indicated the bill would be “dead on arrival” and not reach the House of Representatives.

Ban abortion pills

In recent weeks, several states have taken steps to restrict access to abortion pills. They are already banned in 13 states that have blanket bans on all forms of abortion. 15 states have limited access to abortion pills – six states require an in-person visit to a doctor.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed the first explicit ban on abortion pills into law Friday night. The ban was set to take effect in July, pending legal action that could potentially delay that.

Meanwhile, the Republican-led Senate in Kansas passed a ban on prescribing abortion pills via telemedicine. The House is considering the measure.

Republican representatives in Texas have introduced legislation that would force Internet service providers to block websites that provide abortion pills or information about obtaining an abortion. The state has already declared a complete ban on abortion, with very limited exceptions.

(With input from agencies)

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.