Republican leaders in as many as six US states are rushing to follow the lead of Texas in adopting an extreme abortion ban that critics, including Joe Biden, have slammed as unconstitutional and built to encourage vigilantism among the public.
Abortion rights advocates are bracing to resist a flurry of initiatives from Florida to North Dakota in the wake of the new Texas law, the most extreme in the US, which the conservative majority on the supreme court refused to block.
On Wednesday, the law went into effect in Texas, banning abortion past six weeks of a pregnancy, including for victims of incest or rape, and giving any private citizen the option to sue someone providing an abortion or anyone even believed to be peripherally assisting someone to get an abortion.
Within a day of the law going into effect, six other states – North Dakota, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, South Dakota and Arkansas – have said they are looking to adopt a similar ban, according to numerous reports.
An Arkansas abortion rights advocate told the Guardian on Friday she was prepared to fight such a law if it were to happen in the state.
“Legislation that mirrors Texas’s new law will harm pregnant Arkansans in need of abortions and we will not stand for it,” said Ali Taylor, co-founder and president of the Arkansas Abortion Support Network. “The fight is far from over.”
She added that if such legislation were pass, her organization would continue providing access to legal abortion for its clients.
“This will include helping people access abortion in Arkansas before six weeks and helping people go out of state when they are past the [legislative] gestation limit,” she said. “We will not be intimidated.”
Kristin Ford, acting vice-president of communications and research at Naral Pro-Choice America , condemned the way the six states scrambled to consider the legislation with such urgency after the Texas law went into effect.
“This is the most acute and urgent threat to legal abortion since Roe was decided half a century ago,” she told the Guardian, referring to the landmark Roe v Wade US supreme court decision in 1973 that effectively made abortion legal nationwide and established the right to an abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 24 weeks.
Ford said this was a product of increasingly radicalized rightwing rhetoric.
“The radical right has been working for decades to decimate reproductive freedom and halt social progress,” she said. “But they don’t represent the values of Americans, eight in 10 of whom support safe, legal abortion, and pushing these heinous laws flies in the face of public opinion.”
According to Pew Research Center poll from May, about 59% of Americans say they support the right to abortion in all or most cases.