After visiting four offices, Dr. Erin King, the executive director of Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, said preserving abortion rights in Illinois was important because so many surrounding states have passed restrictive laws, and women travel to clinics in Illinois for care.
“Every time I go to sleep and wake up, there is a new law in a state around us that is either restricting abortion further or essentially banning it,” she said. “If you told me this was going to happen a year ago, I would not have believed it.”
It’s not the first time that activists in the abortion movement believed Roe was about to be overturned. When the Supreme Court took up Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case it ruled on in 1992, both sides of the issue felt certain that it would mean the end of federal abortion protections. Instead, it affirmed them, while opening the door for individual states to regulate at later stages of pregnancy.
But nearly 30 years later, the country’s politics have grown more polarized. Before, some moderate Republicans supported abortion and some conservative Democrats opposed it. Now that political middle has all but disappeared.
While similar legislation is popping up everywhere, each state has its own unique politics.
The signing of a six-week fetal heartbeat ban by Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia came after a long period of relative quiet on the abortion front in the state. The last major abortion law that passed in the state was in 2012. But Mr. Kemp’s narrow victory in November over Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, changed things. An underdog candidate in the Republican primary, Mr. Kemp rocketed to victory with hard-right messaging that included a promise to personally round up illegal immigrants in his truck, and, significantly, to sign a heartbeat bill outlawing abortions after six weeks.
“He wanted to establish his conservative credentials and to do that you have to check the abortion box,” said Stacey Evans, a Democrat and former member of the Georgia House who ran in the Democratic primary for governor last year. “And he did.”