AuthorBlack, Steph
PositionThe state of abortion policy in America

On May 3, the abortion landscape in the United States changed forever. A leaked draft of a majority opinion written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was obtained by Politico, indicating that the Court would rule in favor of Mississippi's ban on abortion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Less than two months later, on June 24, the Court made public its decision. The ruling effectively overturned decades of precedent in the Roe v. Wade (1973) and the Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) cases. Back in May, in anticipation of the Court's ruling, it was projected that some 300,000 people would have to travel long distances to access abortion care and that about 30 percent of them would need help with logistics and covering expenses. Bloomberg, using data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, also predicted that a typical patient would have to travel an average of 276 miles, each way, to the nearest clinic where abortion remained legal--not their preferred clinic, but simply the nearest. This distance is six times farther than the amount of travel required before the Dobbs decision.

Since June, one in three American women--about 20.9 million--between the ages of fifteen and forty-four have lost abortion access in the state where they live, according to The Washington Post. Only 41 percent of women in the United States currently live in a state where abortion is legal and likely to remain protected. The effects of this are already well known. Those who are denied abortion have worse mental health problems, such as anxiety and low self-esteem, than those who can access care. Because 60 percent of people who have abortions are already parents, the economic stress of being unable to obtain an abortion is often devastating. Additionally, abortion bans that have gone into effect at the state level are affecting those already most marginalized, namely people of color and those struggling to make ends meet.

Worse, we are now seeing a dramatic increase in the criminalization of abortion, pregnancy, and miscarriage. Those who have miscarriages or are suspected of inducing an abortion, or helping others have an abortion, will face extreme scrutiny under the law in several states where abortion bans are in effect. As we've seen in the past, we can expect that the justice system will disproportionately punish women of color, immigrants, and other marginalized groups.

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