The recent vote by Ohioans to protect abortion rights is only the latest in a string of defeats for Christian Nationalists and others who want to make abortion illegal in America.
But even though they keep losing, don’t expect these groups to give up. In fact, they just continue to push a litany of extreme measures.
Number of abortions did not drop
Late last month, The New York Times reported something unexpected: One year after Roe v. Wade was overturned, the number of abortions in America not only didn’t drop, it actually increased slightly, about 0.2%.
Bill Scher, politics editor at The New Republic, asked a salient question in an email: “How is that possible, now that 14 states have complete abortion bans and seven recently enacted stricter limits?”
As Scher notes, The Times story provides the answer: “the expansion of telemedicine for mail-order abortion pills, increased options and assistance for women who traveled, and a surge of publicity about ways to get abortions.”
Christian Nati0nalists’ extreme response
Christian Nationalists have a response to that: take away the ability of people to access abortion drugs, intimidate anyone who travels to another state to get an abortion and threaten to arrest those who help such individuals.
It’s already happening. Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Donald Trump appointee who is considered to be one of the most conservative judges in America, blocked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a drug that’s been approved for use in medication abortions and for miscarriage care for more than 20 years.
Kacsmaryk, ruling in a case brought by anti-abortion extremists, ordered the FDA to suspend approval of mifepristone, an action that would have made it illegal to sell or distribute the drug anywhere in America, even in states where abortion is legal.
On appeal, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld much of Kacsmaryk’s ruling, but mifepristone remains available because the U.S. Supreme Court had earlier ruled that FDA approval of the drug can remain in place while litigation continues. The Justice Department has appealed to SCOTUS to hear the case.
Restrictions on travel
Some states are also attempting to stop individuals from traveling out of state to get abortions as well as punish those who help them. Alabama and Idaho have already passed laws banning travel for abortion, and several Texas counties have approved measures making it illegal to use local roads to transport someone to an abortion clinic.
It’s all right to take a minute to feel good about recent results in places like Ohio. But that doesn’t mean our work is done. Religious extremists remain determined to force everyone to live by their beliefs and are already busy cooking up new schemes. (In Ohio, some Republicans are already trying to undercut the clear will of the people.) We have to be there to defeat each and every one of them.
Photo: Abortion rights advocates celebrate the passage of Issue 1 in Ohio. Andrew Spear/Getty Images.