Various women in my life about whom I care deeply have, over the years, used IUDs for birth control, experienced painful miscarriages, faced life-threatening ectopic pregnancies and sought to bear children through in vitro fertilization. If they had lived under the absolutist abortion restrictions currently in place or being contemplated in a rising number of states, those women could have been under investigation, in jail or dead.

When a state enacts a law that bans abortions with no exceptions, fertilized eggs have more rights than women. In places like Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and South Carolina, women who suffer miscarriages may be forced to prove the end of their pregnancy was not intentional. Doctors may hesitate to act swiftly when a woman with an ectopic pregnancy comes to an emergency room for treatment. Eggs discarded during in vitro fertilization processes could be classified as homicide victims. And, following the protect-the-eggs logic, IUDs and other forms of birth control could also be criminalized.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade has opened a wide path for anti-abortion extremists in Republican-controlled states. Already we have the chilling tale of the 10-year-old Ohio girl, a victim of sexual abuse, who was denied an abortion after a tough trigger law kicked in that banned abortions in the Buckeye State after six weeks. The girl had to be taken to neighboring Indiana for the procedure. Soon, though, Indiana may not be a safe haven. GOP legislators in Indianapolis are aiming to impose their own harsh restrictions in the near future.

Declaring that life begins at conception as a religious or philosophical position is one thing, but imposing that view on everyone through the power of the state is an oppressive assault on personal autonomy. It is simplistic. It is extreme. Draconian abortion laws will produce suffering and, in the worst cases, death for American women. And that is the opposite of “pro-life.”

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