The nation’s first abortion ban based on “emerging data” on fetal pain took effect this week in Nebraska. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed in April, bans abortions after 20 weeks and is a bell-weather of the state of reproductive rights on so many levels.
While many states have already banned abortions after 20 weeks (and some even before) the Nebraska law is the first of its kind to ground that ban in the argument that the intent is to protect a developing fetus from pain. The argument is part of the growing fetal rights movement that is intent on creating some kind of legal recognition and status for “future” citizens.
The ban, and the movement, is popular despite the fact that less and four percent of abortions occur between 16 and 20 weeks. But as Shelby Knox unpacks, there’s a lot more to the movement than may appear at first.
The success of the Nebraska ban represents a real dilemma for reproductive rights activists. There’s good reason to think that the ban is unconstitutional. Yet, given the decidedly conservative nature of the courts, reproductive health advocates have been reluctant to launch a legal challenge for fear of solidifying bad law.
But since there has, so far, been little successful push back against this measure the anti-choice community has taken this as a green light to further advance their extreme agenda, as seen in states like Colorado.
So, for the time being at least, women’s access to honest and appropriate health care appears held hostage by politics buttressed by dubious science.
photo courtesy of abby batcheldor via Flickr