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What is going on with abortion in the U.S.?

Why are they banning abortion now when the majority of Americans support access?

What happens when Roe is overturned?

What exactly is Roe v Wade?

What does Roe v. Wade have to do with the right to privacy?

Who gets abortions?

Who will the ban affect?

What other parts of reproductive health are affected by this decision?

What can I do?

What is going on with abortion in the U.S.?

A lot. On June 24th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protected the federal right to an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the Mississippi state law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks could stand. Instead of allowing women to make their own decisions about whether to have an abortion, that decision-making power now rests with state governments. 

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Why are they banning abortion now when the majority of Americans support access?

That is a great question. A whopping 80% of Americans support a woman’s right to choose, however a small minority used the power of the court to overturn Roe. Abortion can be a complex and emotional issue for some people and special interests have spent years and billions of dollars to try to exploit those emotions and divide us. Most Americans agree, abortion is a deeply personal choice between a woman and her doctor and should not be dictated by the government. Recent polling shows that regardless of whether someone aligns as pro-choice or pro-life, over two thirds of American want the government out of this decision.

A quick look at our history will tell you that eliminating access to abortion does not reduce the number of abortions, it just eliminates the number of safe abortions. In fact what is proven to reduce the number of abortions is easy access to birth control and affordable healthcare.

When Roe became law in 1973, illegal abortions were considered to be a public health crisis due to the number of women who where harmed and even killed from their prohibition. The legalization of abortion provided women a safe option in their reproductive healthcare.

So why now? Who the hell knows, but it is certainly not about reducing the number of abortions, which have been declining for years.

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What happens now that Roe is overturned?

This is the first time in history that a constitutional right has been taken away. Just think about that for a minute.  Five members of the Supreme Court, four of whom are men, are going to take away your right to decide when and if you become a mother.

Your ability to get an abortion is dependent on where you live and what you can afford.  Thirteen states have “trigger laws”, which means that with the fall of Roe abortion is immediately illegal, or banned after 6 weeks.  An additional 13 states (so far) have signaled that they will move to ban abortion, or have pre-existing laws that ban abortion. Some women will be forced to travel hundreds of miles, across many states to access abortion. They will need to take time off work, look for child care, and pay for travel expenses in addition to the cost of an abortion.

Keep in mind that in many states the circumstances of your pregnancy do not matter. They make no exception for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.  Some states are even moving towards criminalizing abortion and certain methods of contraception.

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What exactly is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade has guaranteed your right to an abortion for almost 50 years.  It all started with Jane Roe, a mother in Texas who sued the state because it denied her the right to terminate a pregnancy.  In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Roe, declaring that the due process clause of the 14th amendment guaranteed a “right to privacy” (more on this below) that protects a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. 

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What does Roe v. Wade have to do with the right to privacy?

Through a variety of Supreme Court cases, it has been determined that Americans have an inherent right to privacy, protected by the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Our right to privacy protects us from government interference. This right to privacy is also the basis for other rights, like same sex marriage and access to contraception. There is real concern that the fall of Roe could result in other rights being re-litigated and taken away. Even if you don’t think you’ll be personally affected by the right to choose when and if you have a family, this is absolutely the time to act and speak up for our rights.

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Who gets abortions?

A common misconception is that abortions are mostly used as a form of birth control by young, unmarried women. But in reality, more than half of the women who get abortions report using contraception. We also know that the majority of abortions performed in the U.S. are on women who are already mothers. In fact, concern for their children is a motivating factor, with nearly half of the women reporting that providing for the children they already have is their reason for seeking an abortion. 75% of women who get abortions live at or below the federal poverty level.

Despite what extremists want you to believe, almost all abortions occur within the first trimester, and the majority of those happen shortly after someone discovers they are pregnant. Only 1% of abortions are performed after 20 weeks and those are almost exclusively due to fetal abnormalities that are not consistent with life, or to save the life of the mother. Abortions performed later in pregnancy are often women who want to be mothers but discover their fetus will not be able to live outside the womb. 

Approximately 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in their lifetime, which means you probably know and love someone who has had one.

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Who will a ban affect?

Overturning Roe will not immediately create a ban on all abortions in the U.S., but it will allow states to create laws regulating abortion. Some states have been preparing for this moment for years, while others have rushed through legislation to ban abortion once Roe falls. 13 states have “trigger laws” where abortion will be immediately illegal or banned after 6 weeks.  The 13 states are: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. 

These 9 states have pre-Roe bans on abortion: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  In these 9 states old laws will immediately go into effect to ban abortion.  Some of these laws are nearly 100 years old and do not accurately represent our modern democracy.  Another 4 states are likely to move towards a partial or full abortion ban: Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska.  Additionally North Carolina has been hostile towards Roe and may move to ban abortion.  That means at least 26 states will have a full or partial ban on abortion. More than half of the 64 million women and girls living in the U.S., live in a state that will ban abortion.   

We all know that banning abortions does NOT stop abortions from happening, it just leads to unsafe, back-alley abortions. Women with the financial ability to travel out of state, take time off work, and provide for childcare will have an easier time accessing a safe abortion in states that are protecting women’s rights. Women of color will be disproportionately affected by state bans on abortion and women who live in poverty may be unable to afford the increased expense of an abortion. Women who live in the south and mid-west will have longer distances to travel to find access to abortion care. 

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What other parts of reproductive health are affected by this decision?

Contraception – In some states, legislators are moving to criminalize abortion, including certain methods of contraception that stop a fertilized egg from implanting, like an IUD or inter-uterine device. If laws that classify abortion as a homicide are passed, then women could even face prison time or criminal charges for an IUD, spontaneous miscarriage, or for treatment of an ectopic pregnancy. There is also concern that if the right to privacy falls, our right to contraception will also be tested in court. 

Miscarriage – We are already seeing situations in Texas, where the 6 week ban is in effect, that women who naturally experience a miscarriage are being denied medical help. Some miscarriages require the same medicine used for a medication abortion, and pharmacies are refusing to fill prescriptions for women who need this medicine. There are also reports of women being questioned about what medications they took prior to their miscarriage to prove it was natural and spontaneous.   

IVF – Going against modern science, some state legislatures have decided to define the start of life as the moment of fertilization, when an egg and sperm meet. Under this ideology, an embryo created for IVF would be considered a human life. Families who go through IVF often have multiple embryos created which are frozen or discarded. It is currently unknown if state governments will try to force implantation of these embryos.  

Ectopic Pregnancy – An ectopic pregnancy is an incredibly dangerous situation that can result in the death of the mother if left untreated. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus and, despite what some politicians have said, it CANNOT be re-implanted into a uterus. It is a non-viable pregnancy and must be treated immediately to save the mother’s life. There is concern that some state legislatures will move to deny medical care for women experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, which could mean death for the mother.

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What can I do?

The situation is changing quickly so one of the best things you can do is to stay informed. Here at Red Wine & Blue, we are continuing to share information with our community about state laws, abortion bans, and opportunities to stand up for our rights as women. You can also make an impact by ensuring the people in your life are also up to date. Share credible information, talk about women’s rights and healthcare, and encourage your friends and family to vote for candidates that do not support government-mandated pregnancy. For more information about relational organizing, join our Great Troublemaker Turnout. And keep an eye out for more training from RWB about the fall of Roe!

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