Today marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that made abortion a constitutional right.
Roe v Wade was overturned last June, giving power to determine abortion rights Up to 50 states are determined individually.
It sparked a wave of change. Abortion bans enacted, court cases mount and clinics close. Here’s what happened in the seven months since abortion rights in America were overturned.
First, what is Roe v Wade?
Roe v Wade refers to 1973 Supreme Court case That is, the government cannot ban abortion because constitutional liberties include the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy.
Roe was referring to Norma McCorvey, a pseudonym Jane Roe, a Texas woman who challenged the state’s abortion law in 1969 after she was unable to terminate an abortion because it was not life-threatening. Wade was District Attorney Henry Wade, who defended anti-abortion laws.
The court decision means every woman in the United States has the right to an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Another ruling – Planned Parenthood v Casey in 1982 – built on that ruling, saying states could not enact laws that created a “substantial impediment” to women seeking an abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy.
state bans abortion
Twelve states now have near-total bans on abortion. In five of those states, the ban was challenged in court but remained in effect.
The 12 states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Two other states — North Dakota and Wisconsin — have not implemented a ban, but cannot perform abortions because clinics have closed.
Georgia’s ban on abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy severely limits access to terminations because many women don’t find out they’re pregnant until six weeks — and have time to schedule surgery.
These 15 states are home to nearly 22 million women aged 15 to 49, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in reproductive health. That means nearly one-third of U.S. women of childbearing age live in states where abortion is unavailable or severely restricted.
More states may follow suit
Nine other states have imposed restrictions on abortion that are unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, and the bans are currently blocked by courts or may be imposed in the near future.
Arizona and Florida do not allow abortions past 15 weeks, while Utah has an 18-week ban.
In three states, Indiana, Wyoming and Ohio, state courts have temporarily struck down near-total or early-stage bans, but lawmakers have said they intend to oppose them.
In Iowa, Montana and Nebraska, anti-abortion policymakers say they want to ban abortion soon, but abortion care is still available for now.
What happened to abortion clinics?
At least 66 abortion clinics have stopped providing abortion care in 15 states that ban or severely restrict abortion.
The loss of those clinics is being felt nationwide, as clinics in states where abortion is still legal are inundated with interstate travel, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
As the institute explains: “The dramatic increase in case numbers means that clinics are reaching capacity and staffing capacity, leading to longer wait times for appointments, even for residents of states where abortion is still legal.”
A sort of Learn The number of legal abortions nationwide fell by more than 10,000 in the two months after Roe v Wade was overturned, Planned Parenthood estimated, though some women may have sought abortion pills in private.
Many states that ban or restrict abortion have disproportionately high percentages of Black, Latino and Indigenous women.
Kaiser Family Foundation research reveals how overturning Roe v Wade disproportionately affects women of color because they are more likely to have abortions, have more limited access to health care and face barriers to traveling abroad for abortions.
The Guttmacher Institute also notes that “low-income populations … transgender and nonbinary people, immigrants, adolescents, and people with disabilities are particularly at risk of experiencing compounded barriers to abortion care and being harmed as a result”.
Some states have introduced protections
While abortion rights in the U.S. have rolled back dramatically, there is some good news for pro-choice activists.
kansas voters protected abortion rights An amendment that would have allowed lawmakers to restrict abortion was rejected in the state’s constitution.
New York will offer free abortion pills at four public clinics, making its health department the first in the United States to offer free drug-free abortions.
In the midterm elections, voters in five states chose to protect reproductive rights. Vermont, Michigan and California added protections to their state constitutions, while voters in Kentucky rejected an amendment that would remove any protections for abortion rights from the constitution.
In Montana, a bill that would have made it a crime for doctors to provide abortions was defeated.
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Medication abortions accounted for the majority of abortions in the US — in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, 53% of cases involved abortion pills.
Early evidence suggests they’ve become more popular since Roe v. Wade was overturned — a Learn Advice to seek medical abortion has tripled.
In early January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed its rules to allow retail pharmacies in the U.S. to sell abortion pills for the first time.
However, the abortion pill is now seen as the next frontier in the struggle by anti-abortion activists, who are working to limit access.