Wednesday 27 January 2021
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Heartbeat laws: Viral messages drafted by lobbies plagiarised to make anti-abortion laws

Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio copied up to one-third of the viral message to make their abortion-restricting laws

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Politics World Heartbeat laws: Viral messages drafted by lobbies plagiarised to make anti-abortion laws

Columbus: The American society was surprised to see a plethora of near-identical laws this spring season. These were bills that imposed restrictions on abortions on detection of the heartbeat of the foetus. Regardless of the objections and reservation, these bills were passed in six odd State legislatures.

Many Americans came to know of the legislation from media headlines this year. However, the bills were a result of at least 10 years of calculated efforts. In 2009, the bill was drafted in Ohio. Thereafter, as though the document were a WhatsApp message, some users turned the message viral. As it caught the attention of legislators, it was raised as a demand in different State legislatures up to 26 times until it was accepted and passed in six provinces of the US.

The language of the bills in different States was nearly identical. Journalists and surveyors associated with USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity found this on studying the new bills in different States as 30 odd reporters surveyed the bills over a period of two years. The team used a unique data-analysis engine built on hundreds of cloud computers to compare millions of words of legislation provided by LegiScan, reported USA Today.

These copycat bills aimed at reducing the frequency of abortions in American society. Some are referring to the phenomenon as ìmodelî legislation. Between 2010 and 2018, more than 400 bills, all related to abortion, were introduced in 41 States where the legislators hardly worked on drafting. Large portions of messages gone viral were copied. Special-interest groups, the American term for lobbies, had authored the original message.

A woman is not allowed to abort her foetus without ultrasonography according to a provision in most of these near-identical bills. Abortion clinics would find it difficult to acquire licences according to another clause in the proposed law. A third provision asks for a waiting period before an abortion. States passed 69 of these viral messages into law!

Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio lead the States that used plagiarised drafts as bills and turned them into laws. According to the media collaboration named above, one-third of the content of their bills were copied!

Referred to as heartbeat laws, these pieces of legislation are now being challenged in court by a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union 2 Alexa Kolbi-Molinas. The attorney calls these copycat abortion bills ìstunning.

Kolbi-Molinas said this is all part of an orchestrated national strategy to push abortion out of reach for people. She noted that the plagiarised bills surfaced during a period when legislators enacted more than 400 abortion restrictions across the country.

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