From Maine to Hawaii, abortion rights advocates will protest to 'stop the bans'

Posted at 6:06 AM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 07:06:28-04

Abortion rights protesters trying to stop a wave of anti-abortion laws plan to flood statehouses, town squares and courthouses Tuesday.

More than 50 organizations -- including the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Pro-Choice America -- are participating in #StopTheBans protests nationwide.

Rallies will take place at noon local time in almost all 50 states .

"Across the country, we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access," organizers said.

"This is Trump's anti-choice movement... and it's terrifying, particularly for women of color and low-income women who are most affected by these bans."

Last week, Alabama enacted the strictest abortion law in the country. It would make abortion illegal in virtually all cases, including cases of rape and incest.

The new law says doctors who perform an abortion could face up to 99 years in prison -- similar to punishment for rapists and murderers.

But due to legal challenges, it could be years before Alabama's law takes effect -- if it ever does at all.

Georgia is one of the latest states to enact a so-called "heartbeat law," meaning virtually all abortions are illegal once a heartbeat is detected.

That can be as early as six weeks, which is before an embryo becomes a fetus , according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Several states already have similar laws, including Mississippi and Ohio. And more states, including Missouri and Louisiana , could enact "heartbeat bills."

Abortion rights activists say these kinds of restrictive laws are an attack on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US.

"We will show up to speak out and fight back against this unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish women," organizers of Tuesday's protests said.

"Politicians shouldn't be making decisions best left to women, their families, and their doctors."

Incidentally, the National Right to Life -- the largest anti-abortion organization in the country -- said it is fighting a different kind of national wave.

"We bet you are frustrated. You are frustrated with the extreme pro-abortion agenda that seems to be taking over our country," Right to Life tweeted.

It called for supporters to attend its national convention in July.

Perhaps the one thing both sides of the debate can agree on is whether new abortion restrictions are meant to challenge Roe v. Wade.

The Alabama legislation was actually designed specifically to go to the Supreme Court and challenge Roe v. Wade, said Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition. The coalition helped draft the Alabama bill.

But it can take years for the Supreme Court to hear a case, if it chooses to hear the case at all. The nation's highest court decides which cases it wants to take.