CBS Worries States Are 'Test[ing] the Limits of Roe v. Wade'

"State abortion rights test limits of Roe v. Wade" reads a teaser headline on's front page this afternoon.

The link brings readers to an article by Stephanie Condon entitled "Abortion battles spring up nationwide as states test the limits of Roe v. Wade":

In Ohio on March 2, two fetuses "testified" before the Ohio House on behalf of the so-called "heartbeat bill." The hearing room was packed with spectators who listened to the rapid, gentle pulsing of the heartbeat from a 15-week old fetus, and the barely audible heartbeat of a nine-week old fetus.


Ohio's "heartbeat bill" would ban abortions in the state as soon as a heartbeat could be detected, with exceptions for medical emergencies. But while a heartbeat may make for compelling "testimony," even most anti-abortion rights activists acknowledge the "heartbeat bill" wouldn't hold up in court.


So why push this bill? Some anti-abortion activists may answer, why not?


The anti-abortion rights movement last year found itself in a set of circumstances that have all worked to advance their agenda. Most importantly, states across the country elected new, emboldened conservative politicians. Hundreds of anti-abortion rights legislators and a net of 12 new anti-abortion rights governors were elected, according to Americans United for Life.




If legislation like the "heartbeat bill" is shot down in court, it only leaves anti-abortion legislators and activists with a status quo they can continue to fight. And while more extreme legislation wins headlines, lawmakers in Ohio and several other states are testing the bounds of the current legal framework for abortion -- or trying to change it -- with dozens of other less sensational bills.

Condon focused on the politics of the fight, but failed to explore the moral imperative that motivates the pro-life movement. Tactics like the "heartbeat bill" may be initially shot down in court, but they highlight the brutality and murderous nature of abortion, aiming to move the public in a pro-life direction.

Instead, Condon cued up pro-choice advocates to insist pro-lifers would "overreach." Notice, however, how Condon paints Planned Parenthood in a positive light by noting that they also run "health clinics" when not busy aborting children (emphasis mine):

"Since some recent Supreme Court cases, particularly Gonzales, I think [anti-abortion rights activists] have felt emboldened to push the envelope," Planned Parenthood's Rachel Sussman said, referring to Gonzales v. Carhart, the 2003 Supreme Court case that upheld the federal partial birth abortion ban.


"When you combine that with overwhelming wins at the state legislature, this is their moment," said Sussman, who tracks state-level anti-abortion efforts.


For pro-abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood -- which oversees a network of health clinics as well as a political advocacy arm -- the question is whether anti-abortion activists will botch the moment.


"It's an overreach, and ultimately the public is going to reject it," Sussman said of aggressive efforts to roll back abortion rights and services.

At no point did Condon find someone arguing that Planned Parenthood's aggressive lobbying over the decades for abortion-on-demand constituted overreach.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.