The dispute over abortion laws will not subside if Roe v. Wade falls
On both sides of the abortion debate in America, activists are convinced that Roe v. Wade – the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing the right to abortion nationwide – is more at risk than ever.
However, no matter how the current conservative-dominated court deals with the high-profile pending abortion cases — perhaps weakening Roe, perhaps completely undermining it — there will be no unifying change nationwide. The cross-border battles between countries over access to abortion services will continue.
Roe’s death is likely to prompt at least 20 Republican-controlled states to impose blanket bans; Perhaps 15 countries ruled by Democrats will reaffirm their support for abortion access.
More complicated are the politically divided states where battles over abortion laws may be fierce — and likely to become a volatile issue in the 2022 elections.
“Many of these states are one election away from a completely different political landscape when it comes to abortion,” said Jessica Aarons, a reproductive rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Those states include Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which now have Democratic governors and Republican-controlled legislatures. The Republican Party’s victories in the next year may position those states to join others in imposing bans if Rowe is overturned.
It is difficult to predict the net effect on the prevalence of abortion, given that many people in states where abortion is prohibited will continue to strive to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Some can experience drives hundreds of miles to get to the nearest clinic; Others may get abortion pills by mail to terminate the pregnancy themselves.
Among the submissions to the Supreme Court as it considers a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, one reflects input from 154 economists and researchers. If abortion becomes illegal in 23 states, by their calculations, the number of abortions in clinics nationwide would drop by about 14%, or about 120,000, in the following year.
Abortion rights activists expect women of color, rural residents, low-income women, and gays to be disproportionately affected.
Under that scenario, economists say, the ban would affect 26 million women of child-rearing age, and the average distance to the nearest abortion clinic would increase from 35 miles (56 kilometers) to 279 miles (449 kilometers).
Elizabeth Nash, of the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, says Roe’s agitation will motivate some Democratic-ruled states and abortion rights groups to speed up programs that help people cross state borders for abortions.
“But things are going to get complicated and difficult very quickly,” she said. “You are disrupting the entire abortion care network across the country, and people will seek abortions in places that may not have enough capacity for people in their state already.”
A possible preview unfolds at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights, Illinois, outside St. Louis. It opened in 2019 as an abortion option for people from Missouri and other neighboring Republican-governed states. It’s seeing an increase in patients from far away as a strict ban in Texas leads to a backlog of work hours across the south-central US
Dr. Colin McConcholas, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood for Reproductive Health Services in the St. Louis area, said the clinic is preparing for a potential influx of 14,000 additional women each year seeking abortion services if bans multiply after Rowe.
“We’re fully thinking about the operational changes we’ll need — staying open seven days a week, running two shifts every day — to accommodate this many patients,” she said.
She said patients are already “extremely frustrated” with driving up to nine hours from home.
Possible increases in out-of-state abortions and “mail-delivered abortions” will be among the many challenges facing the anti-abortion movement even if it is dreaming, said Michael New, an abortion opponent who teaches social research at Catholic University of America. Check death roe.
Another potential challenge: Some Democratic-leaning plaintiffs may refuse to enforce the ban.
Michigan, for example, has a 90-year-old ban on books. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, says she wouldn’t enforce the law if it became law; The local attorney general, Washington County Democrat Eli Savitt, tweeted, “We will never sue anyone for exercising reproductive freedom.”
While there is consensus that Roe is more vulnerable than ever, there is no certainty about how the Supreme Court could act. The clues will appear on December 1, when judges hear arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
In this case, Mississippi is asking the court to overturn Roe’s ruling and pursue a 1992 ruling that bars states from banning abortion before it is viable, the point near 24 weeks of gestation at which a fetus can survive outside the womb.
If the court simply upholds the Mississippi ban, other Republican-governed states are likely to take similar action. The Guttmacher Institute says that between 6.3% and 7.4% of abortions in the United States, or 54,000 to 63,000 annually, are performed at or after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
However, activists on the opposing sides believe that the Supreme Court – both in the Mississippi case and in a later case – is willing to go further, overturning Roe so that states are free to impose a blanket ban.
“For nearly 50 years, states have been prohibited from passing abortion laws that reflect the values of the people who live there,” said Mallory Quigley of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group. “Dobbs is the best chance since 1973 to get that right.”
Wisconsin could become one of the most contested battlegrounds, as its 1849 laws still have a law criminalizing abortion. But even if the law does go into effect, it may not be implemented if next year’s elections leave Democrats holding positions of governor, attorney general and as attorneys general in Milwaukee and Madison, which are home to abortion clinics.
The 2022 election is likely to energize activists in every camp, says Jolene Appling, an abortion opponent and leader of the Wisconsin Family Council.
“Smart candidates competing on either side will say that there is a big difference in deciding who is the governor and who is the attorney general,” she said. “Wisconsin is so purple — and we have a real battle on our hands on this issue.”
When Roe decided, abortion was widely legal in four states, permitted in limited circumstances in 16 others, and prohibited in almost all circumstances elsewhere. In 1974, a year after Rowe, there were about 900,000 abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Abortions have risen steadily, peaking at 1.61 million in 1990, before a steady decline – dropping to 862,000 in Guttmacher’s most recent survey, covering 2017. The decline is due to increased availability of effective contraceptives and a decrease in unwanted pregnancies, and neither Especially among teenagers.
Women also have safer and easier options for terminating a pregnancy; Medical abortion now accounts for about 40% of abortions in the United States. Advocacy groups are spreading the word about abortion pills that can be used at home without the involvement of a medical professional.
Increased use of mail-order pills could pose a dilemma for the anti-abortion movement, given that its leaders generally say they favor criminalizing the actions of women seeking abortions. Grain is often shipped from abroad; These suppliers are an elusive target for prosecutors.
Aarons, an attorney for the ACLU, says anti-abortion activists are deluding themselves if they think a post-Roe ban could enable them to live in abortion-free states.
“People who want to terminate their pregnancy will find a way to do so, whether it is legal or not,” she said. “The need will always be there.”
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