After months of deliberation, the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case regarding a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi in the fall. With this case, the tribunal – which is made up of a 6-3 anti-abortion majority, including three people appointed by Donald Trump – has the potential to suppress legal access to abortion nationwide, if not d ‘completely undo the precedent of Roe v. Wade.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is focusing on a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks – before some people even know they are pregnant, and before most of the more serious fetal diagnoses can be detected, though the law claims to offer exceptions in these cases. Even people who know they are pregnant and have made the decision to have an abortion may find it difficult to do so before 15 weeks, as many face restrictions and barriers that further delay access to the procedure. , including travel, accommodation and child expenses. care.
As the first major Supreme Court case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the bench last fall, Dobbs raises many questions about the future of legal abortion care in the United States and how to support access to abortion, regardless of the outcome. Here’s what we know so far.
What is at stake in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health?
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health stems from a 2018 law in Mississippi that bans 15-week abortion and focuses on the question of “whether all pre-viability bans on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Predictability restrictions on abortion include all laws that prohibit abortion care before the fetus is viable to live outside the womb, which is usually between 24 and 28 weeks. Due to the standard set by Roe v. Wade in 1973, pre-viability abortion bans are unconstitutional. The 15-week Mississippi ban in question has been the subject of legal challenges since 2018, and even a conservative federal appeals court overturned it in 2019, per the pre-viability standard.
Despite the 2019 appeals court ruling, the Supreme Court and its anti-abortion majority have the option not only to uphold the 15-week abortion ban, but also to reverse the pre-viability standard. , and even to cancel Roe more broadly. This would leave the right to abortion to states – a dangerous scenario, as most states do not include the right to abortion in their state constitutions, and some even have trigger laws that would automatically prohibit the right to abortion. abortion if or when Roe is reversed.
With Dobbs, the court could also set aside the precedent of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 ruling that upheld Roe and determined that restrictions on abortion cannot place an undue burden on a person’s ability to have an abortion. But while the Planned Parenthood case upheld legal abortion, it also helped make possible more abortion laws and Supreme Court cases like this one, due to the ambiguity of the “excessive demand” standard.
Judges could defend Roe with words to present the image of respecting precedents, and further decimate access to abortion – a growing trend, especially in the past 10 years, when more than a third some 1,200 state restrictions on abortion have been enacted. About 90 percent of US counties do not have an abortion provider. Even if the Supreme Court overturns Mississippi’s 15-week ban, as it ruled last year in Medical Services v. Russo, who was dealing with clinic closure laws in Louisiana, the court may say it’s ready to hear future cases on other abortion restrictions.
Ideally, the court could overturn this 15-week abortion ban, all other abortion bans, and reaffirm the Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that abortion restrictions cannot be an undue burden on access. But given that six of the nine judges have a long history of anti-abortion rights, this is unlikely.
How might Dobbs affect access to abortion in the United States?
Depending on the court ruling, we could see even more abortion bans and restrictions pass – and there are already many. In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott enacted a bill that will not only ban six-week abortion, but also give any U.S. citizen the power to prosecute someone who has aborted, or who has provided or helped someone to have an abortion. In April, states enacted 28 abortion restrictions in one week – the highest number of any week in recent history, making 2021 one of the most dangerous years for abortion rights in Canada. this day.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a dramatic impact on access to abortion, at one point giving states wide leeway to ban abortion by identifying it as ” non-essential health care ”. In addition, the pandemic created many obstacles to travel, costs and safety, as COVID cases and deaths skyrocketed, as did unemployment and loss of health coverage. As a result, more people have started using abortion medications, which can be safely taken at home, but many states and the Trump administration have quickly worked to restrict this form of abortion care. The Dobbs case could further tighten restrictions on medical abortion and abortion care by dismantling the protections created by Roe v. Wade – As recently as January, the court has already dealt a blow to access to medical abortion.
The health, economic and security impacts of restricted access to abortion can be incredibly harmful. Research has shown that not being able to have an abortion can push someone into poverty, worsen their physical and mental health, or make them more likely to stay in an abusive relationship. We also know that states with more restrictions on abortion tend to have higher maternal mortality rates, and that women of color are more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth.
How can we support safe access to abortion, regardless of court rules?
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is an incredibly high stakes case, but it’s important to remember that abortion rights have always been threatened and abortion providers and advocates have always helped people get the care they need. ‘they’re looking for, anyway.
If the worst-case scenarios for abortion access become a reality, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Elections – especially at the state and local levels – have always been very important for reproductive rights, and will be all the more so if Roe is overthrown or if states are given carte blanche to enact more prohibitions on reproductive rights. abortion like that of Mississippi. This means that each of us will need to redouble our efforts and research our state lawmakers, and ensure that we vote and organize for local representatives who will reject abortion bans and work to expand access to abortion. Fortunately, groups like #VOTEPROCHOICE and the NARAL and Planned Parenthood locals make this a lot easier with their comprehensive voter guides.
And of course, when it comes to the federal level, it is crucial to listen to reproductive rights and justice advocates and not anti-abortion politicians who have spent their careers swearing to end legal abortion, only to enlighten us and claim their selections for judges and judges will uphold Roe’s precedent.
Although elections are important, there is no substitute for direct support at the community level. Local abortion funds provide direct financial support for the costs of abortion and associated costs for transportation, accommodation, child care, and more, and have always been of vital importance as Federal laws and many states prohibit public funding of abortion care. Abortion funds exist and connect people to the care they need since before abortion was legal. Finding, donating, and volunteering with your local abortion fund, or a fund in an area where care is important, can help facilitate access to safe abortion, regardless of the rules of the Supreme Court.
As with all high-profile Supreme Court cases related to abortion or the state’s draconian abortion laws, we must remain vigilant and aware of the threat posed by Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. But it’s also important to stay motivated and energized to continue the fight beyond any single decision or election, and to do the work in our communities to ensure that each of us can get the care we need, no matter what. the political attacks we face.