While abortion is still currently legalized in the U.S.; a recently leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Justice Alito has revealed that the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that settled abortion as a constitutionally protected right was voted down in February of this year.
This unprecedented exposé of where the majority conservative leaning justices stand on abortion rights in America is stark yet unsurprising. Even though this opinion has yet to be declared the final decision on the matter (votes can/do frequently change during multiple drafts); striking down abortion access has been the bedrock of the Republican political landscape and could be coming as soon as the Summer.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. | Ruth Bader Ginsberg
The court might go in the other direction and decide to uphold Roe v. Wade (which I sincerely hope they do); but trusting this has been a persistently fragile undertaking. Justice Alito’s draft opinion laid bare just how devastating an end to abortion access would be for reproductive healthcare in this country. At least 22 states (with more to follow) have total abortion bans on the books that would immediately come into affect if Roe is struck down; some with no exemptions for rape or incest. The Louisiana GOP currently has a bill waiting for advancement that would classify abortion as homicide.
If forced pregnancies are imposed, it’s those in low income households that are most likely to be impacted and driven further into poverty and/or debt; according to the Guttmacher Institute, 75% of those getting abortions are either poor or low income (with many falling below the federal poverty level). Going through a pregnancy and birth is expensive even under the best of circumstances; a recent study published in the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that low income parent/s can end up spending up to 20% of their annual income. The financial burden this would place on someone is irreconcilable; most notably so because this country currently offers no universal healthcare, no national paid family leave and no universal/affordable child care. Abortion bans triggered by the proposed overturning of Roe v. Wade would deliberately inflict financial, physical and mental trauma on those already struggling — but perhaps that’s the point.
The United States, for example, has the highest maternal mortality rates of any developed country and represents the only industrialized nation in the world where this trend is rising; statistics show Black and Indigenous women are at disproportionately higher risk of dying from pregnancy related complications than White or Hispanic women. None of this should be ignored when looking at the devastation that further restricting or banning abortion would have; especially within an already neglectful public health system where medical care is not equally accessible.
Those who can afford it will always be able to visit another state or country where abortion is still allowed. Government laws and policies rarely undermine the rights of those who sign them into existence; or have the ability to pay for the freedom to determine what happens to their bodies. All an abortion ban does is make getting safer reproductive care more difficult and dangerous; it puts the health at risk of those already trying to exist in a country that places systemic barriers to equitable wellness in their way.
As you would expect, abortion is an issue that affects the lives of people from all religious, ideological, political, economic, ethnic, sexuality, gender identity and age-related backgrounds. But those facing the brunt of what could potentially be unleashed if/when Roe v. Wade comes to an end have already been fighting the longest and hardest for their rights.
By arguing in his draft opinion that abortion isn’t mentioned in the constitution; Justice Alito contradicts his assertion that no other rights will come under threat because contraception, same-sex marriage and interracial marriage, for example, are also missing from this seminal text. Individual states could start attacking other settled laws to slowly chip away at their precedents; as has been done in the case of abortion rights for nearly 50 years.
As unsure and disheartening as this time may feel; we can still protect abortion rights and support those who need access to them. Here are some key things you can do right now:
- Donate money to funding programs that cover the cost of an abortion, including the procedure/medication, travel and lodging. You can use the National Network of Abortion Funds to find state-by-state information; you can also use this network list if you need assistance with getting an abortion
- Donate money and/or services to The Brigid Alliance that provides transportation to/from abortion care; you can also use this link if you need help traveling to your abortion services
- Give money to support the work of The ACLU | Planned Parenthood | The Center for Reproductive Rights | The National Abortion Federation | Indigenous Women Rising Abortion Fund | National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
- To privately and securely find an abortion clinic, visit I Need An Abortion
- Contact your Senators to tell them to vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (which codifies Roe into law — find out what this means here); you can send a pre-written email via Next Gen America
- Remind those needing reassurance and/or access to abortion services that it is still currently legal to have an abortion in the U.S.
If you have any other resources that help protect abortion rights and preserve Roe v. Wade as settled law then share them in the comments below; we can make our voices heard. And if the worst does happen, we’ll continue establishing networks of support that provide medically safe and responsible abortion access to anyone who needs it.
What are your thoughts on the Roe v. Wade draft opinion leak from the Supreme Court?
America’s Abortion Quandary – Pew Research Center
Read some quotes from the 17th Century English jurist that Justice Alito cited as informing his draft opinion about why Roe v. Wade has to be struck down (hint: the guy was a raging misogynist who thought marital rape didn’t exist) — via ProPublica
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