On Monday, June 29, the Supreme Court struck down a recent Louisiana law that could have left the state with one abortion clinic. This ruling was surprising, considering the court has a solid conservative majority thanks to two appointments from the Trump administration.
This ruling for sure slashed the hopes of conservatives who were counting on President Trump’s appointments to lead the court to eventually overrule Roe v. Wade.
But at least today Roe v. Wade survives.
Now if you are familiar with my column, you know how I feel about this issue. You know I feel very strongly about this issue and how it affects people in this nation.
You then also know how I feel about the fact that amid nationwide unrest and a global pandemic, Tennessee lawmakers chose to spend their last few moments in session representing the great people of Tennessee by passing another six-week abortion ban that includes some of the strictest restrictions in the country.
I talked about this when it was in committee late last year; you can read my scathing review here.
To say I’m tired of talking about this issue would be a major understatement. Every year the same bills get passed in the same conservatives states. They then go to the same courts who strike them down along the way. While there were some nerves this past year regarding how the Supreme Court could approach all these laws, we saw Monday they have little plans to attack abortion access. At least for now.
So then why talk about it at all? If abortion access is safe and all they are doing is wasting their own time passing this legislation who cares?
While I am concerned about the time wasted, I am more concerned about the money we waste in these legislative crusades against abortion access.
I am not asking you to agree with me on a moral stance regarding abortion; I get why people feel so strongly especially when rooted in religion. But what people often do not realize is when these laws pass, and then the state is sued by organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights and many others, it costs money to fight in court.
It costs your tax money to fight in court.
For example, in 2012 Mississippi was defending three different abortion laws, all of which were blocked by the courts. For those cases alone the state spent $225,940 in attorneys’ time.
Not only are taxpayers on the hook for their state's legal costs, but they could also be on the hook for paying the plaintiffs' legal costs as well.
According to the Washington Post, between 2015 and 2019 taxpayers in states trying to restrict abortion access have paid almost $10 million in attorney fees for abortion providers.
In 2019, Texas had to pay the Center of Reproductive Rights almost $2.3 million dollars in legal fees from a suit that struck down an anti-abortion law.
States could be using that money to combat infant and maternal mortality, or fund comprehensive sex education courses in public school, or provide accessible contraceptives to low-income citizens or provide more funding to the foster care system to ensure all children are adequately taken care of and find good, loving homes. But instead, that money is going toward fighting laws that even lawmakers know will not last.
If you are against abortion, vote to have your tax dollars actually prevent it. Not to have a conservative representative propose a symbolic and empty abortion ban every year that gets struck down and wastes your tax dollars. Let’s demand our representatives use our money on proven programs and initiatives to diminish the necessity for women to seek abortion care in the state.
Kaylee Sheppard is a graduate student in the Accelerated Master in Public Policy program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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