Lhe right to abortion is losing ground in the United States. The laws prohibiting it come into force Thursday, August 25 in three new American states, further restricting access to abortion in the country, two months after the historic decision of the Supreme Court to reverse this right. There are now 21 million women, according to the washington postwho are banned or severely restricted access to voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) in at least 13 states.
Tennessee, Texas and Idaho, led by Republicans, joined the dozen other states that also put in place dormant laws passed in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision. Composed of six conservative judges out of nine, the latter dynamited on June 24 the constitutional right to abortion, protected for nearly 50 years in the country, and returned to each state the power to legislate on the question.
This judgment, a historic victory for the conservative movement, caused a political storm and placed the issue of abortion at the heart of the campaign for the mid-term legislative elections scheduled for November. Since the cancellation of the famous “Roe v. Wade”, 13 states have banned or severely restricted access to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which campaigns for access to contraception and abortion.
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Many women wishing to have an abortion must therefore leave these states, and sometimes travel thousands of kilometers to find an open clinic, if they can finance such a journey.
Prison sentences against caregivers
In Texas, the law which comes into force on Thursday punishes up to life in prison any caregiver who performs an abortion, with an exception in the event of major danger to the mother. It adds to a tangle of restrictive texts which had already led to the effective cessation of abortions in this state of 30 million inhabitants. In Tennessee, in the south of the country, where abortion was already prohibited beyond six weeks, any practitioner performing an abortion may be sentenced to prison.
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This state, like Texas, does not provide an exception in the event of rape or incest, and observers believe that the law is unclear in the event of intervention to save the mother. In Idaho (Northwest), the new text makes it possible to sentence caregivers who have performed an abortion from two to five years in prison, with exceptions in the event of incest or rape.
A federal judge blocked part of this law on Wednesday evening, and the state will not be able to prosecute doctors who perform abortions to protect the health of women. The day before, a reverse court decision had been taken in Texas, illustrating the confusion around the legal battles which are multiplying across the country.
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Half of the States soon concerned?
Eventually, about half of American states, especially in the conservative and religious center and south, could outlaw or severely restrict the right to abortion. In Indiana, such a law is to go into effect September 15. Conversely, states led by Democrats seek to establish themselves as “sanctuaries”.
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President Joe Biden has made the defense of abortion one of his campaign themes in order to mobilize his electoral base, and in particular women, in view of the November elections, which threaten his fragile majority in Congress. Two recent victories have given hope to the Democratic camp.
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In early August, voters in Kansas, a traditionally right-wing state, voted to uphold the constitutional abortion guarantee. And on Tuesday, a Democrat who campaigned for abortion rights won against his Republican opponent in an election in a hotly contested New York state constituency.