This Week, Anti-Abortion Extremists Showed Us Who They Really Are

Lawmakers are bending the democratic process and ignoring their constituents to push health care out of reach.

Rose Mackenzie, She/Her, Campaign Strategist, ACLU

This week was a heartbreaking one for those of us who believe in the freedom to fully control our bodies, lives, and futures. Anti-abortion legislators pushed their extremist agenda in three states simultaneously, and as they did they showed the world exactly who they are: legislators bent on cutting off access to health care who won’t let public opinion or democratic principles get in their way.

Just a few weeks ago, we saw the will of the 59 percent of Nebraskans who support access to abortion prevail as legislators rejected a proposed abortion ban. But not content with regular process, anti-abortion extremists turned around and proposed an amendment to an existing bill, attaching an abortion ban to legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for youth. With this move, they confirmed what we have long known. Anti-abortion and anti-trans movements have the same goal: to deny us the ability to make our own decisions and define our own path. This is about control, plain and simple.

And it doesn’t stop there — these lawmakers are willing to bend our democratic rules in order to achieve that goal. That blatant disregard for the democratic process was embodied by the governor of South Carolina who, just five minutes after the end of regular session, announced his intention to call legislators back into session in order to ban abortion. And South Carolina House Speaker Murrell Smith affirmed that disregard when he said, “the chamber will not adjourn until the measure gets approval.”

They’re well matched by their neighbors in North Carolina, who told the press that “House and Senate leaders will meet in private to come to an agreement, and then they will roll out a bill after they have an agreement, so that the two chambers don’t have to get into a public debate over that decision.” And they managed to do just that, passing a ban on abortion at just 12 weeks of pregnancy and severely curtailing access to care before that point for millions of people in the state.

Brushing Off Constituents' Demands

But what else would we expect from people who are so indifferent to opposition that they move forward on extreme bills despite the public making their demands known? We saw this in Nebraska, where hundreds protested in the capitol during debates, and in North Carolina where 2,000 people showed up to a rally supporting the governor’s veto and over 200 businesses spoke up in opposition to the law.

These lawmakers have prioritized scoring political points by any means necessary over the will of the people they represent. But we know it’s about more than political gamesmanship. It’s about the woman who has desperately tried to start a family, only to become pregnant and discover severe complications during pregnancy. It’s about the cancer patient who needs to end their pregnancy in order to continue life-saving treatments. It’s about the 12-year-old survivor of rape and incest who doesn’t want to bear the child of her abuser. It’s about the student in the final year of school who doesn’t want life-long dreams taken away. Fundamentally, it’s about all of us who deserve to be able to control our own bodies and the course of our own lives. It’s about freedom.

This is unacceptable behavior from elected officials, and it’s time we fight back. If you live in Nebraska, North Carolina, or South Carolina, look up the votes your elected official took this week and let them know how you feel about it. And let’s all stand in solidarity with our community in those three states by showing up at local events for abortion rights, and calling our elected officials to let them know how important it is that every person can make decisions about their bodies and lives, and access essential health care like abortion. It’s time we let our representatives know that we are paying attention, and we will fight for our freedoms with everything it takes.