Multiple celebrities are using their platforms to protest the push for harsher abortion regulations in a handful of southern states. 'The Good Place' actress Jameela Jamil shared her abortion story in response to Georgia's newest law and now T.V personality Busy Philipps of 'Busy Tonight' has done the same - introducing the hashtag #YouKnowMe.
Philipps has been openly pro-choice and decided to first share the story of her abortion on her show after Georgia signed their "fetal heartbeat" bill into law. "The statistic is that one in four women will have an abortion before age 45. That statistic sometimes surprises people," she said to her audience, "and maybe you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t know a woman who would have an abortion,’ well, you know me I had an abortion when I was 15 years old and I’m telling you this because I’m genuinely really scared for women and girls all over the country.”
The phrase 'you know me' struck a chord with her producer Tina Fey, who encouraged her to start the hashtag. Philipps told The New York Times,"She said, 'I think you hit on something, which is you know me,'" but admitted to the outlet she felt too "overwhelmed" to do it right after opening up about her story. After the Alabama Senate passed another restrictive abortion bill, effectively completely banning it, which has since been signed into law, she tweeted out against it and used #YouKnowMe. She encouraged women to use the hashtag to share their own abortion stories to "end the shame" that surrounds the procedure. Like the similar hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion, it quickly went viral.
Image credits: BusyPhilipps
In 1973 Roe v Wade was passed by the Supreme Court to legalize abortion, but in 1992 they were faced with Casey v Planned Parenthood which is what ultimately gave individual states more control over how they regulated these abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy organisation, the first quarter of 2019 saw at least 28 state legislatures introduce some form of abortion ban. So far seven states introduced restrictive abortion bans, with Alabama being the most recent.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the controversial abortion bill passed by The Alabama Senate passed the bill 25-6, that could punish doctors who perform abortions with a 99-year or lifetime prison sentence. The law does not allow exceptions for rape and incest, which even some religious supporters like Evangelical leader Pat Robertson said "has gone too far." The law only allows exceptions "to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother," for ectopic pregnancy and if the "unborn child has a lethal anomaly."
Georgia's governor Brian Kemp signed a "heartbeat bill", that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, which is possible as early as six weeks. Heartbeats can be detected before many women even know that they're pregnant. Unlike Alabama there are exceptions in the case of rape and incest if a police report has been filed. Other exceptions include if an abortion is essential to saving the mother's life or if the fetus is not viable due to a serious medical issue. The ACLU has plans to challenge this legislation.
Kentucky legislators have been going back and forth to pass abortion laws. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against a heartbeat law in the state and blocked it and earlier this month another judge struck down a 2018 abortion law that would have ended a common second-trimester abortion procedure known as“dilation and evacuation.” In response Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has begun the appeal process of this 2018 ruling and filed it with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Similar to Kentucky's legislation, Mississippi seeks to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The law was set to take effect on July 1, but the state's only abortion clinic and the Center for Reproductive Rights have asked a federal judge to block it. Current Mississippi restrictions require a 24-hour wait between an in-person consultation and the procedure.
North Dakota's governor has signed legislation that makes it a crime for a doctor to perform a second-trimester abortion with the use of instruments i.e clamps, scissors and forceps in order to remove the fetus from the womb. If caught medical professionals would be faced with a felony charge, up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The bill would come into effect and be enforceable if a federal appeals court or the US Supreme Court allows it.
Ohio's governor signed a heartbeat bill this year which banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law does not provide any exceptions for rape or incest. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to challenge the six-week pregnancy ban, which is set to go into effect July 10 unless the ACLU court order is able to delay the start date while the lawsuit goes forward.
Heartbeat legislation started as a model bill passed around by fringe anti-abortion groups, until it was taken up by North Dakota in 2013 and ultimately struck down by the lower courts - who deemed it unconstitutional. While it is likely that these laws will continue to get struck down by lower courts, the hope of anti-abortion groups is that some will make it to the Supreme Court. Even if the justices do not overturn Roe v Wade there is the possibility that they can uphold these measures to make the procedure more difficult to obtain in these states.