American evangelicals have high hopes that the US Supreme Court, with its newfound conservative majority, will be tempted to chip away at its historic decision to legalize abortion.
Forty-six years after its landmark Roe v Wade decision, the high court is at the heart of a heated offensive led by states with conservative majorities who oppose the voluntary termination of pregnancy.
This week alone, Alabama passed a law banning women from having an abortion even in cases of incest or rape and the Missouri legislature made illegal abortions from eight weeks of pregnancy. Both states have vowed to prosecute doctors who perform the procedure.
Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa and North Dakota have enacted laws banning abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks of gestation, before most women know they are pregnant.
All of these laws flagrantly go against Roe v Wade, which guarantees women’s rights to abortion as long as the fetus is not viable — around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The new pieces of legislation are therefore widely expected to soon be blocked in court. But their backers seek to go beyond that step, planning to appeal such decisions until they reach the Supreme Court in hopes this will lead to the long-sought conservative goal of overturning the abortion ruling.
“All the conservative states across the US are testing the limits, they see it’s a sympathetic court to the conservatives,” Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown Law told AFP.
“(President Donald) Trump has changed the balance of the Supreme Court, so that he now has a Supreme Court that is decisively conservative and unfriendly to women’s reproductive rights, that’s unquestionably true.”
During the 2016 campaign, Trump secured the evangelical vote that had been initially hesitant to cast ballots for the bombastic, twice-divorced billionaire by promising to appoint anti-abortion justices at the highest court in the land.