Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren describes Alabama’s new abortion law as “dangerous and exceptionally cruel.”
It’s intended, she said, to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion.
“I’ve lived in that America,” Warren said, “and let me tell you: We are not going back. Not now. Not ever.”
Warren, now 69, was in her early 20s when the court handed down its landmark ruling in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Norma McCorvey, a Texas woman known in the legal action as Jane Roe.
At the time, abortion was illegal in much of the country. In Texas, where the lawsuit was filed, women could obtain a legal abortion only if their lives were in danger.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates that in those days as many as 1.2 million women a year sought help wherever they could find it. Thousands ended up in hospitals with severe complications from botched procedures. In 1965 alone, nearly 200 of those women died .
All of that changed with the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion across the country. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion, declaring that the right to an abortion was absolute during the first trimester. After that, the court ruled, the government could intervene in certain circumstances.
The ruling has been under attack almost ever since.
Nearly five years ago, a writer named Laura Bassett wrote an article for HuffPost titled “The return of the back-alley abortion.”
“Across the U.S., laws have forced abortion providers to close,” she wrote. “Now, four decades after the Supreme Court upheld a woman’s right to choose, pregnant women again find themselves crossing the border to Mexico and haunting back alleys in search of care.”
Dan Grossman, vice president of research for an international nonprofit called Ibis Reproductive Health, told Bassett he had done some research on the issue.
“We’ve heard reports of women taking herbs or other substances, or intentionally getting punched in the stomach or beaten up -- the same kinds of things they did before abortion was legal,” he said.
The fight to end abortion helped President Donald J. Trump get elected in 2016, and he continues to promote the issue.
“Democrats are aggressively pushing late-term abortion allowing children to be ripped from their mother’s womb, right up until the moment of birth,” he told a rally in Florida. “The baby is born, and you wrap the baby beautifully, and you talk to the mother about the possible execution of the baby.”
Just for the record, late-term abortions are not much of an issue in the United States. Just 1.3% of the procedures take place after 21 weeks, and those almost always involve devastating health issues.
As for a child being born alive during a failed abortion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that happening exactly 143 times over a stretch of 11 years.
The president, of course, doesn’t care about facts. He’s just looking to exploit what he sees as a winning issue.
His prospective opponents are not backing away. Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand called Alabama’s new law a “ruthless, coordinated assault on reproductive rights.”
“Doctors could face 99 years in prison for providing abortions,” she tweeted. “This is a war on women, and it’s time to fight like hell.”
Warren accused the president of stacking the courts with judges inclined to do away with abortion.
“Women across this country are scared,” she said in a video. “Women are angry. If you support women, now is the time to make that known.”
It’s time, in other words, to pick a side.
Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at email@example.com.