The Reversal of Roe v. Wade and What It Means for You
Originally Published: November 8, 2022
Revised: November 8, 2022
For nearly 50 years, the Roe v. Wade decision upheld the U.S. constitutional right to choose an abortion, allowing pregnant people to have agency over a life-changing decision. The Supreme Court reversal in June 2022, however, spells out a dangerous future for pregnant people in this country and highlights existing inequalities in access to health care. It remains more crucial than ever to know the facts in order to understand your rights, freedoms and possibilities.
Did You Know?
Even before Roe was overturned, several states drafted legislation to limit abortion access. These “trigger bans” were designed to go into effect once abortion was no longer protected by the constitution. As of today, seventeen states have either restricted or outright banned the procedure, with several others looking to restrict access. The situation is shifting all the time.
Abortions Are Health Care
Abortion is a vital health care procedure. In some cases, such as infections and nonviable or ectopic pregnancies, the removal of a fetus can be necessary in order to save the life of the pregnant person. And importantly, even when abortion is outlawed, these life-threatening emergencies will continue to happen, leaving people vulnerable if medical care like abortion is denied them.
Abortion is a vital health care procedure.
Protection of Your Reproductive Rights
On July 8th, President Biden signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, intended to safeguard not only reproductive rights, including access to health care services like contraception and abortion, but also the privacy, safety and security of patients, providers and clinics.
Although efforts like this are a positive first step, barriers remain. Individual states can still make laws to restrict abortions and access to abortion medication. For instance, Texas has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, protesting the requirement that doctors provide lifesaving abortions as an emergency procedure.
Continued Access to Abortions
For now, those living in states that prohibit abortion can still travel to other states that do not. But for people who lack the resources, funds, connections or time to travel—especially people of color, and those who are low income, rural or otherwise marginalized—abortion can become inaccessible.
And although commuting to a different state remains a possibility for now, some states are already considering implementing a ban on out-of-state abortions. In Missouri, for example, a law was proposed that would allow private citizens to sue anyone involved in the process of performing an out-of-state abortion, further limiting the amount of people who would be willing or able to receive, perform or assist in obtaining an abortion.
Barriers for Young People
For teens, there are other barriers. Traveling out of state can be a limited option—some people who get pregnant are not old enough to drive and it can be difficult, unsafe or financially out of reach for them to travel. And abortion medication provided through online services can be unavailable to minors.
Also, if a person younger than 18 chooses to have an abortion, 36 states still require a parent to be involved in their decision in some form, according to the Guttmacher Institute. But not everyone can comfortably or safely tell their parent or primary caregiver about their pregnancy or decision to have an abortion.
Judicial bypass, a process that allows a young person to get an abortion without informing a parent, can allow some to forego parental consent. But for those who have to travel or navigate this process alone, judicial bypass is a monumentally difficult procedure.
What You Can Do
The loss of freedom of choice represents an attack on personal, reproductive rights and a complicated, treacherous road forward for pregnant people. So what can you do?
Identifying available abortion resources and using contraception are important precautions. Registering to vote and voting for pro-choice politicians can help to make long-lasting change.
But most importantly, knowing your own rights can make all the difference.
Photo by Jasmine on Unsplash
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