The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that there is no constitutional right to abortion sparked a wave of emotion in the United States. Religious conservatives celebrated the achievement of a long-standing goal, while abortion rights advocates warned that millions of American women now face serious barriers to accessing what many consider basic health care.
Supreme Court demonstrators cheered, booed and wept as Americans across the country began to prepare for a future in which a woman’s right to abortion, protected for almost 50 years by the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, would be revoked. eliminated or drastically reduced in more than half of the 50 states.
In more than a dozen states, abortion restrictions were expected to go into effect almost immediately due to “active laws” that were due to go into effect after the repeal of Roe’s law, or due to already existing laws that were not enforced due to protection. Rowe. provided.
Overall, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a women’s health research organization, 26 states ultimately “are confident or able to ban abortion to the fullest extent possible.”
In some states, this will include banning abortions without exception for rape or incest, criminalizing medical professionals who perform abortions, and criminalizing women who have abortions.
“This is a real atrocity,” said Heather Shoemaker, director of access to abortion at the National Women’s Law Center. “We have yet to see the chaos that will erupt in this country because of this decision.”
“Every day, women seek medical help to terminate their pregnancies,” she told Voice of America. “They need help from their families, their friends and their trusted partners and providers to get that help. And with this decision, the court actually put all this at risk. Clinics will be closed. Those who help people get abortions can be threatened with lawsuits, people will be increasingly prosecuted and prosecuted. … I don’t think the country really knows what to expect.”
In contrast, Stephen Aden, general counsel for Americans United for Life, told VOA he was “euphoric” when the decision was announced and urged abortion rights supporters to embrace the decision.
“The Life Movement is reaching out across the aisle to those who are pro-abortion, and we are urging them to realize what abortion really is and what it does to women and life in the womb so that we can create a new America that is not divided.” about the right to kill babies in the womb,” he said.
Patchwork of laws
By keeping the federal government quiet on the issue of abortion and leaving the issue to the states, the ruling guarantees a patchwork of abortion laws across the country. The procedure is expected to remain widely available in the Northeast, the Pacific Coast, and some states inland, including Illinois, Colorado, and New Mexico.
However, in areas of the Deep South and Midwest, access to abortion services will be limited or non-existent. Women seeking medical care have to travel hundreds of miles, which virtually guarantees that many of them will carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This will be especially true for women without significant financial resources and support networks in a population that is disproportionately represented by minority groups, according to the US Census.
There will also be differences between states in how abortion laws are enforced. In some cases, law enforcement will bring charges against people found to have broken the law.
In other states, including Texas and Oklahoma, enforcement has been delegated to private individuals. These states have given individual citizens the right to sue people involved in illegal abortion procedures. This tactic was originally developed while Rowe was in office because it made it difficult or impossible to challenge legislation in federal court.
Negative Consequence Warnings
Professor Tracey A. Weitz, a sociologist at American University, told VOA that research has clearly established that women who want an abortion but can’t have it face a range of negative outcomes over the next five years.
“These women were more likely to have bad economic outcomes, more bankruptcies, more evictions, more financial problems,” she said. “The children they had, and the children they already had, are more likely to suffer economic and social consequences. People were more likely to stay in relationships with abusive partners, and they were more likely to suffer health consequences, and in some cases death.”
Weitz said these problems would hit the poorest Americans hardest.
Wealthier Americans will be able to travel to access abortion services, she said.
“The people who are left with children they didn’t expect and know they can’t take care of will be people who are already suffering from structures of oppression,” she said. “They are more likely to be people of color and more likely to be low-income.”
Anti-abortion “safety net”
While they celebrated the decision, some anti-abortion organizations have acknowledged that by limiting the right to abortion, states will create increased demand for services among women who carry unwanted pregnancies to term.
“Over the next few years, we will have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives, by limiting the horror of abortion in many states,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, in a prepared report. statement. “In this mission of justice and mercy, we are doubling down on our commitment to women and families.”
Dannenfelser called for an expansion of the “life protection system” for pregnant women and their families.
Republicans support power
“The Supreme Court’s historic Dobbs decision is both bold and correct,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “This is a historic victory for the Constitution and the most vulnerable sections of our society.
“Millions of Americans have spent half a century praying, marching and working for today’s historic victories for the rule of law and the lives of innocent people,” he added. “I am proud to have been with them throughout our long journey, and today I share their joy.”
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called the decision “the most important anti-abortion ruling in American history.”
He added: “The right to life has been reaffirmed. The voiceless will finally have a voice. This great nation can now live up to its core principle that all are created equal – not born equal – created.”
Democrats condemn it
President Joe Biden on Friday called the court’s decision “an exercise in extreme ideology and a tragic mistake.” He noted that this is the first time that the court takes away a constitutionally protected right.
Biden said the federal right to abortion could be restored through legislation, but acknowledged that in a heavily divided Congress in which Democrats generally support abortion rights and Republicans generally do not, a law codifying Rowe’s defense is unlikely to pass. . He urged supporters of access to abortion to vote, referring to the issue of access to abortion in the midterm elections in November.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, made a similar appeal to voters.
“Major health decisions should be made by a woman herself, in consultation with her doctor and her loved ones, and not dictated by far-right politicians,” Pelosi said in a statement. “While Republicans seek to punish and control women, Democrats will continue to fight furiously to secure the Roe v. Wade law.”
Calling the decision “brutal…outrageous and heartbreaking,” she added, “But make no mistake: the rights of women and all Americans are up for a vote this November.”