Giving Compass' Take:
- Jamiles Lartey discusses the confusing patchwork of laws created accross states in the U.S. by the criminaalization of abortion.
- What role can you play in advocating for legal access to abortion care?
- Find state-by-state abortion access information.
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There is no such thing as the criminal justice system in the U.S. There are instead thousands of municipal, county, state and federal legal systems that often overlap and contradict one another.
Few moments in recent memory have highlighted this better than the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. In rescinding the 49-year-old constitutional right to abortion care, the court “suddenly dumped the abortion question back into the realm of criminal law.”
As Jeff Crossman, a candidate for attorney general in Ohio, put it: “The Dobbs decision did not settle anything. OK? It opened a Pandora's Box of other legal problems that are going to take years to resolve.”
Some resolutions will come at the ballot box. This comprehensive roundup from Bolts gives a sense of how many ways the fight over reproductive rights can go in the 2022 midterms alone. That includes not just control of Congress, which has been the focus of national Democrats like President Biden, but also statewide ballot initiatives, the partisan makeup of state supreme courts, the outcome of governors’ races, and more, down to city governments.
Even within jurisdictions, the picture is muddled. Take Texas, where there are three anti-abortion laws. One archaic 1925 law technically went into effect when the court’s decision came down last month, but prosecutors have not yet used it.
A second law, which has been called a “bounty” or “vigilante” law, allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists with an abortion for damages of at least $10,000. It bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be found, about six weeks into a pregnancy. The Texas Tribune reports that anti-abortion groups are planning to use this law in at least two suits against groups raising money to fund abortions.
A third Texas law — a so-called trigger law passed in 2021 — which criminalizes abortion from the moment of fertilization, is slated to go into effect on Sunday.
Read the full article about the confusion created by criminalizing abortion by Jamiles Lartey at The Marshall Project.