On Friday, June 24th, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote that abortion is not a constitutional right, therefore overturning the landmark 1973 case, Roe v. Wade. This decision stripped away a woman’s right to choose what she does or doesn’t do with her body. Today, it’s easier to get a gun than an abortion.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s decision:
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
What are trigger bans?
Some states already have bans on abortion in their state laws, however, they were un-enforceable due to the federal law ruling abortion legal up to 24 weeks. Now that Roe v. Wade and Casey have been overturned, those state laws are “triggered,” and can become enforceable. 13 states have trigger laws, but only eight states’ laws immediately went into effect on Friday: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. The rest of the 13 states are expected to follow within the next couple months.
What does this mean for women?
Women, but especially women of lower income and other marginalized communities, will be negatively affected following this decision. Dr. Herminia Palacio, CEO of the Guttmacher Institute said:
“Evidence also shows the disproportionate and unequal impact abortion restrictions have on people who are already marginalized and oppressed—including Black and Brown communities, other people of color, people with low incomes, young people, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and people with disabilities.”
Abortion bans force women to travel to other states to receive abortion services. This means taking off work and losing pay, traveling, staying in hotels, getting food, not to mention the cost of the procedure itself. These are all factors that have a significantly higher impact on those marginalized communities who cannot afford to miss a day of work or do not have access to reliable transportation. In states where abortion is illegal, women may have to travel six hours or more by car and 19 hours or more by public transportation just to reach a clinic.
Restrictive access to abortion services will cause more women to seek out the procedure in unsafe and illegal ways, which will inevitably lead to increased deaths in a country that already has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world.
There is evidence that places with greater access to abortion perform less abortions than those without it. Now, after a 30 year decline in abortions, the trend has reversed. There were 8% more abortions in 2020 as there were in 2017. It seems the conservatives and the Supreme Court are helping do the exact opposite of what they claim they want.
Is this what Americans want?
While there are definitely a lot of Americans who were excited about this ruling, polls say that the majority of the country actually disapproves. An NPR/PBS NewsHour poll conducted on Friday found that overall a 59% majority of US adults disapprove of the Supreme Court’s ruling, with about half saying it is a step backward for America.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many are fearful that the Supreme Court is moving toward striking down rulings of other fundamental rights such as same-sex marriage and access to contraception. Justice Clarence Thomas has already stated that the court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” which would effectively go after same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships, and contraception access.
Justice Thomas’ statement only confirmed what many had been fearing when the court’s decision draft was released in May. Even though this is a scary time for women, abortion is still legal in 16 states, also known as “Safe Haven states.” And there are organizers and activists all across the country who are willing to help anyone who needs assistance with accessing services.
Because it’s their right. Because it’s their body. Because it’s their decision. This ruling is a catalyst that will lead to more fundamental rights being stripped away at the hands of a select few un-elected officials who have decided to force their personal beliefs on an entire country. What they did on Friday will not stop women from having abortions, but it will stop them from having safe abortions. And that will kill more already living, breathing people than the federal legalization of abortions.
Which states are Safe Havens for abortion?
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, D.C.