Why Have So Many States Banned Abortions?

Some of the gains have been stunning. In 2010, Alabama Republicans flipped both houses of the state legislature, gaining 21 House seats out of 105 total representatives in the state. In Kansas, Republicans held control of the state House, while adding 15 seats. In North Dakota, where a new abortion ban is under consideration, Republicans already controlled the legislature before 2010, but they've added 13 House seats and seven Senate seats in the last two elections.

New bans and regulations are forcing a legal issue over when abortion can be banned, as 20-week limits seem to violate Roe v. Wade. In that case, the Supreme Court decided states could only ban abortions after "viability"—the point at which a fetus can survive outside its mother's womb—and that typically occurs at 28 weeks, well after the mark laid out in the recent wave of 20-week (and now 12-week) bans.

Last week, as Arkansas banned abortions in landmark fashion, a federal district judge overturned Idaho's ban as unconstitutional, citing the "viability" mark laid out in Roe. Abortion-rights advocates have challenged laws in Arizona and Georgia, and they plan to challenge Arkansas's.

"It really is sort of a poke of a stick in the eye of the Supreme Court, to dare them to take the case," said Widener University law professor John Culhane. "It's pretty clear from the most recent of the big Supreme Court cases ... that no outright ban can be placed before viability."

And that's part of the pro-life movement's goal: To put abortion back in front of the Supreme Court, get Roe v. Wade overturned, and return abortion policymaking power to the states.

"We believe it can and will be overturned," AUL's Hamrick said. "It should be returned to the states. The Supreme Court set itself up as the abortion control board of the United States."

If states keep passing laws, and anti-abortion activists get their way, the Supreme Court may have to decide whether it will take up the issue once again.

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