The oldest and largest anti-abortion group in the country has unveiled absolutely frightening model legislation which not only proposes near-total state bans on abortion – even for a pregnant person who is suicidal – but would criminalize information sharing about abortion pills online or by phone. It heralds a worsening hell of criminalization, state surveillance and maternal deaths.
Abortion rights advocate and Alabama clinic worker Robin Marty Underline Model Legislation Monday on Twitter. It’s essentially a boilerplate bill that would help Republican lawmakers come up with pre-written legislation in their respective state legislatures, which they no doubt will.
In a Press release dated June 15, the National Right to Life Committee said that if the Supreme Court reversed Roe vs. Wade– as it seems likely to do by the end of June—States should pass its model law this would prohibit abortion unless it is immediately necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman, or if “delay creates a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function”. Literally nothing less than these scenarios? Sorry, no abortion. (It doesn’t matter, the organization says, if a pregnant woman is openly suicidal.) If a pregnant person somehow qualifies for an abortion, the the invoice says abortion must be “carried out in the manner which offers the best chance of survival to the unborn child”.
“With this model law, we are establishing a roadmap for the right to life movement so that in a post-deer society, we can protect many mothers and their children from the tragedy of abortion,” NRLC President Carol Tobias said Wednesday. The NRLC version complaints “the model law guarantees that no criminal or civil penalty shall be imposed on a pregnant woman”, regardless of whether more than 1,300 people were criminalized for the outcome of their pregnancy between 2006 and 2020.
The model legislation would also criminalize anyone who aids or abets an illegal abortion, including telling someone how to use abortion pills Where host a site which explains where people can get said pills. From text:
Aiding or abetting an illegal abortion should include, but is not limited to: (1) giving instructions by telephone, Internet, or other means of communication regarding self-administered abortions or ways to obtain an illegal abortion; (3) host or maintain a website, or provide an Internet service, that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion; (4) offer or provide illegal “doula abortion” services; and (5) provide referrals to an illegal abortion provider.
If banning discussion of abortion sounds familiar, that’s because it’s happened before in the United States: Comstock Act of 1873 prohibits the dissemination of information about birth control and abortifacients.
When lawmakers claim this reversal deer will not ban abortion – that it would simply defer the decision to the States – not only do they ignore the existence of trigger lawsbut also the existence of national lobbying organizations that are prepared to make it as easy as possible for states to ban abortion and criminalize speech.
Republicans claim to be the party of freedom. This is apparently what freedom looks like to them.