From coast to coast, thousands of people across the U.S. will participate in demonstrations Tuesday in protest of the flurry of new laws from state governments that ban legal access to abortion.
Dozens of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILY's List and the Women's March, will join forces to speak out against the latest efforts to curtail hard-fought access to reproductive healthcare under the rallying cry "#StopTheBans."
"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," the groups said on the #StopThe Bans protest website. "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."
Actions will be held Tuesday at noon local time at state houses, town squares and court houses across the country, with other events planned throughout the week.
"We will show up to speak out and fight back against this unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish women," the website states, referring to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which said a woman has a constitutional right to end a pregnancy until the fetus is developed enough to live outside the uterus. "Politicians shouldn’t be making decisions best left to women, their families and their doctors."
The demonstrations come less than one week after Alabama's governor signed into law the nation's strictest abortion law, making it a felony in the state for a doctor to perform an abortion at any time absent a medical emergency.
Missouri lawmakers on Friday voted to ban abortions eight weeks into pregnancy, even in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking. The legislation declares that "God is the author of life" and that the "state and all of its political subdivisions are a 'sanctuary of life' that protects pregnant women and their unborn children." The bill would criminally penalize a non-complying doctor, and Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, is expected to sign it into law.
States including Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi have passed so-called "heartbeat" bills outlawing abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant. Utah and Arkansas also voted to ban the procedure after the second trimester.
The bills, along with similar proposals currently under consideration in more than a dozen other states, are the latest effort by conservatives to challenge Roe v. Wade. They have moved through states across the nation at a time when opponents of legal access to abortion nationwide have been emboldened by the transformation of the Supreme Court with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which secured a conservative majority on the nation's highest court for decades to come.
State lawmakers have introduced more than 250 abortion restriction bills so far this year, according to a study conducted by Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization.
Supporters of such restrictions say fetuses are humans and deserve human rights. Many supporters are Christians, who believe the Bible forbids most abortions.
Opponents of the legislation have vowed to sue to block the measure if it becomes law. They intend to argue that a state cannot restrict access to abortion before viability — the point at which a fetus can survive outside the uterus — which is a right that federal courts have repeatedly reaffirmed in decisions since Roe. Any restriction on abortion must contain exceptions to protect the life and health of the woman and cannot create an "undue burden" on a woman seeking an abortion — a standard that was established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey" in 1992 and clarified in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016.
"Politicians have absolutely no place in our personal health decisions. Now more than ever, we must unite against this unprecedented attack on our fundamental rights and freedoms. It is time for women, men, and all people to declare that reproductive health care is health care and health care is a human right," Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen said in a statement. "We will stand together to defend our right to safe, legal abortion. Because we are in the fight of our lives."
The abortion bans have drawn widespread criticism from Democratic lawmakers.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., spoke out against attempts to limit legal abortion, arguing that the latest efforts are "about women's power."
"When women are in control of their sexuality, it threatens a core element underpinning right-wing ideology: patriarchy," she said. "It's a brutal form of oppression to seize control of the 1 essential thing a person should command: their own body."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said, "Republicans are on the march to overturn Roe v. Wade. And thanks to Donald Trump stacking the courts with anti-choice judges, that could be a real possibility. Access to safe, legal abortion is a constitutional right — and we're going to fight this with everything we've got."
Another presidential hopeful, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said that if he becomes president, he wants Congress to codify Roe, making it national law even if the Supreme Court reverses or weakens the decision.
"Right now I am calling for it, even though obviously with Mitch McConnell and a [majority Republican] Senate, we would not see a vote," if it were introduced in Congress today, he told BuzzFeed News last week. "We need to pass it through the House and Senate, and I look forward to signing that law when I become president."
Several states, including New York, have already passed bills to protect and expand Roe.
Despite red-state trends to limit abortion access, 2018 was "the first in recent year when the number of proactive policies enacted outpaced new restrictions," according to a report from The Guttmacher Institute. Last year, 29 states and the District of Columbia enacted 80 measures that expanded access to reproductive health care.