States Willing To Go Broke To Push Anti-Abortion Legislation


When we talk about the battle over abortion, we usually focus on the high price women would pay if they couldn’t obtain a safe abortion. However, there’s another reason state lawmakers should think twice about trying to restrict reproductive rights: It costs millions of dollars. Defending questionable abortion regulations takes an astronomical amount of money, and unless states have been squirreling away coins in a piggy bank marked “Money to Oppress Women,” they really can’t afford to take on Roe v. Wade, even if they’d like to.

Some are questioning if Ohio’s effort to pass a “heartbeat bill,” which could ban abortions at six weeks, is really worth the cost because the plan is so ambitious (or some would say, stupid). The bill clearly violates Roe v. Wade, and according to Reuters, the ACLU has already promised to sue as soon as it passes. Defending the case at the federal level would cost at least $1 million in legal fees, and there’s only a slim chance that the justices have changed their minds on abortion and are just looking for an opportunity to overturn the 1973 decision. Bill Graber, an Ohio construction worker who opposes abortion and is testifying against the heartbeat bill, says,

“This is a gamble … They are taking the state of Ohio’s credit card and they are going to the Supreme Court casino to throw the dice to see if they can go for the final death blow on Roe v. Wade. And they’re probably not going to do it.”

Even with laws that don’t go before the Supreme Court, the cost is still high. In just the past six month, Kansas has racked up $400,000 in legal bills to push its most recent batch of anti-choice laws. Aside from their own legal bills, when states lose they may be forced to make a payout, as South Dakota did recently when it lost an abortion case against Planned Parenthood. Despite the fact that this could happen again, South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugaard is now asking for another $1 million from the state budget to defend the state’s attempt to implement a three-day waiting period for abortion.

Many states are finding themselves in similar situations, and Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, says, “It’s interesting because many of the people promoting abortion restrictions call themselves deficit hawks.” Ohio Republican State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann says passing the heartbeat bill is worth spending money Ohio doesn’t have because, “I think saving, in future years, millions of unborn babies from death is something you don’t put a dollar value on.” It’s just more proof that being a fetus is really where it’s at. In states pushing abortion restrictions, there’s a seemingly endless money supply to help out those who are still in the womb, but if you’re hoping to fund programs that assist those who’ve already been born, don’t count on it.

Reality Check: States Tough On Abortion Face Legal Costs [Reuters]
South Dakota Governor Asks For Another $1 Million To Defend Anti-Abortion Law In Court [Think Progress]

Image via wavebreakmedia ltd/Shutterstock.

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