Battles expected over abortion-related bills

Published 7:20 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

NEW YORK — On each side of the abortion debate, legislators and activists emboldened by recent political developments plan to push aggressively in many states this year for bills high on their wish lists: either seeking to impose near-total bans on abortion or guaranteeing women’s access to the procedure.

For abortion opponents, many of whom will rally Friday at the annual March for Life in Washington, there’s a surge of optimism that sweeping abortion bans might have a chance of prevailing in the reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court that includes Donald Trump’s appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Legislators in at least five states — Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida and South Carolina — are expected to consider bills that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, possibly just six weeks into a pregnancy.

Conversely, results of the midterm elections buoyed supporters of abortion rights in several states, including New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico. Abortion-rights groups there are now hopeful that lawmakers will pass bills aimed at protecting access to abortion even if the Supreme Court eventually reversed or weakened the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

Email newsletter signup