EDITORIAL: Chipping away at women's rights

York Dispatch Editorial Board
Rep. Kate Klunk during the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

State Rep. Kate Klunk can't even violate the U.S. Constitution with originality. 

Klunk's would-be ban on abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome is cribbed directly from North Dakota's code book. It's a blatant violation of a woman's right to choose, and court's have labeled it such after its passage in three other states. 

It's legislation that's doomed to meet Gov. Tom Wolf's veto pen. And that's if it survives the state Senate, where it rightly died in 2018.

This past week, Klunk, R-Hanover, rammed through DOA legislation on the taxpayer dime. In the short term, Klunk achieved nothing except a mean-spirited, unnecessary pronouncement of her own conservative credentials.

Recently, Alabama has been the epicenter of the anti-abortion debate. That's after Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this month signed a near-total ban on abortion, legislation that included no exceptions for rape and incest, and would jail physicians for up to 99 years for performing the medical procedure.

More:State House passes Klunk's Down syndrome abortion ban

More:Missouri’s GOP-led Legislature passes 8-week abortion ban

More:Alabama governor signs near-total abortion ban into law

More:Abortion-rights groups challenge restrictions on providers

Alabama's latest attempt to undermine legal precedent protecting abortion access is the culmination of an increasingly aggressive campaign throughout conservative states. Iowa, Ohio and Georgia have passed so-called "heartbeat" bans. Texas made abortion inaccessible to thousands of women by imposing onerous regulations on clinics that, ultimately, forced most providers to close.

But Alabama's latest effort is tantamount to firing a Howitzer at Roe, powered by the belief that conservatives now own the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In contrast, Klunk prefers using an ice pick to undermine Roe's foundation. 

And in some regards, her strategy is more insidious. 

Chief Justice John Roberts is notoriously sensitive to the public's perception of the high court. And poll after poll shows 70 percent of Americans support access to abortions through the first two trimesters of a pregnancy.

So, even with the addition of two conservative justices during President Donald Trump's tenure, a sweeping ruling that overturns Roe remains in doubt. Instead, the new conservative majority is more likely to eat away at Roe bit by bit.

Roe's death is likely to be a slow one. It's likely to come with tacit endorsements of laws such as the one passed in Texas. It's likely to feature near-incomprehensible legalese that permits limitations on abortion access while allegedly upholding 47-year-old precedent.

All the while, state lawmakers such as Klunk will seize the opportunity to score political points. They'll attempt to impose their narrow religious view on a supposedly free people. 

And they'll continue violating their oath because, to them, the Constitution is merely a buffet from which to pick and choose.