As the ultra-conservative Supreme Court nears a decision that may erode or reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that allowed abortion until fetal viability (23 weeks), Red states are moving swiftly to enact ever more punitive laws to punish women who get an abortion, as well as doctors or nurses who provide them.

Some thought that abortion pills that are easily available on the Internet would provide access to abortion for women in Red states that had banned it. But according to a recent article in the New York Times, 19 states have adopted new laws barring the use of abortion pills obtained by mail, and another 9 are considering similar legislation.

States such as Missouri are attempting to reach beyond their borders to stop their residents from going elsewhere to get an abortion, by pill or by surgery. Connecticut and California, meanwhile, are rushing to protect their citizens who might be penalized for helping women in restrictive states obtain the medication. One pill manufacturer has sued to stop a Mississippi law that requires the pills to be picked up and swallowed in a doctor’s office.

In Texas, S.B. 8, which bans abortion after about six weeks, requires civilian enforcement, incentivizing citizens with bounties of at least $10,000 to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion. S.B. 4, the subsequent law against medication abortion, establishes a criminal violation for delivering the pills, making it a state felony punishable by $10,000 and up to two years in prison. A bill in Iowa would ban the distribution of the pills entirely, with punishments of $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

The Lancet, a medical publication that is considered reliable and reputable, recently reported that abortions done by mail-order pills are safe and effective.

Only days ago, Oklahoma enacted an almost total ban on abortions, with the sole exception of saving the pregnant woman’s life. A rapist faces a possible prison term of up to five years, but if the woman he raped tries to get an abortion, she may be jailed for up to ten years. What is the logic behind the disparate treatment?

The bill, Senate Bill 612, would make performing an abortion or attempting to perform the procedure a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $100,000 or maximum 10 years in state prison, or both. 

The legislation, which first passed the state Senate last year, passed the state Republican-led House on Tuesday by 70-14, without debate or questions on the floor. The legislation now heads to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who previously promised to sign every bill limiting abortion that came across his desk.

Such a law would have been unthinkable before Donald Trump appointed three ultraconservative justices and Senator Mitch McConnell rushed through their confirmations.

Women in Red states who are affluent will find a way to get an abortion, by traveling to another state where it is legal (although some states are trying to criminalize that too). Women who are poor, most of whom are people of color, will have more babies. Ironically, this will hasten the changing demographics in Red states.

My personal view of abortion is that it is a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor. My views should not compel anyone else to do what I believe. Women who are opposed to abortion should not have one. Women who, for whatever reason, want an abortion should have access to abortion services that are safe and legal.