States Enter Fierce Abortion Debate

New Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito have not taken a position on whether they would overturn Roe. Kennedy refused to overturn it in the 1992 case, which was the last time the court considered the issue.

But states more friendly to abortion rights are taking no chances. New York and Rhode Island are considering laws to secure abortion rights if the court were to overturn Roe and leave it up to the states to decide. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada and Washington already have laws protecting a woman's right to abortion.

In the wake of the decision, Democrats in Congress also have introduced similar legislation, called the Freedom of Choice Act, which would protect abortion rights under federal law.

"I am hoping that it will be a wake-up call to people in this country and to make them aware that perhaps things are not as safe as they assumed they were," said Derzis, whose Alabama clinic was bombed several years ago. "This is something we have lived with for many years; abortion being safe and being here. I don't see women going back."

Even in places like Alabama, some lawmakers say while it's one thing to impose restrictions and discourage abortions, bans are not what voters want.

"It is a proud state. It is not a dumb state. We have some people who would like to see us go back, but I think we have lot more who want to see us move forward," Derzis said.

Erwin, who has introduced legislation to ban abortion except when the mother's life is in danger, concedes that chances of his bill passing are "slim."

"A lot of legislators would be very reluctant to send a message that we are not going to abide by Roe v. Wade," Erwin said. "If you put it at the state government level, it is still up in the air and a big area of debate."

In Alabama, conservative politicians, including some Republicans, said they would oppose any effort to ban abortion completely. They note that Alabama already has as many restrictions on abortion as any state in the country.

"I think we have enough restrictions and I do not support additional restrictions on peoples' right to choose," said conservative Democratic Sen. Lowell Barron, chairman of the Rules Committee, who supports restrictions on abortion. "I think that the majority of the citizens of my district and of this state believe in the family's right to choose."

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