Reproductive Rights

On This Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade, Abortion Rights Stand In Jeopardy – So Take Steps To Protect Them.

  Alicia Johnson

Tomorrow marks 49 years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade made abortion legal across the country. Meanwhile, we await the high court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most consequential abortion rights case since Roe.

This Supreme Court term is the first time since Roe that the court agreed to hear a case on the constitutionality of a pre-viability abortion ban, and last month during oral arguments, Mississippi officials explicitly asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. If it does, half the states in the U.S. are poised to ban abortion entirely.

At Americans United, we know that religious freedom is reproductive freedom, and we were one of more than 420 organizations and nearly 10,000 individuals who filed amicus briefs in support of abortion access in the Dobbs case.

The Mississippi law, like other abortion bans we’ve seen in Texas and across the country, are all part of a Christian nationalist agenda designed to impose one narrow set of religious beliefs on everyone else. In December during oral arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor got to the heart of this issue when she asked Mississippi’s solicitor general, “How is your interest anything but a religious view?”

Religious extremists are trying to impose their beliefs on us all. As AU President and CEO Rachel Laser said on the steps of the Supreme Court that day, “Different religious and moral belief systems have different views on abortion. Religious freedom demands the right to an abortion so people can make their own decision according to their own principles.”

We don’t have to look far to understand what happens to abortion access when Christian nationalists have their way. Abortion bans and restrictions on abortion already disproportionately harm Black, indigenous and other people of color, the LGBTQI+ community, immigrants, young people, folks working to make ends meet and people with disabilities.

As Alice Wang, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said at our Virtual Town Hall in December: “It’s impossible to overstate what’s at stake in this case… We’re already getting a chilling glimpse of what a post-Roe reality would look like in Texas where SB8 has effectively banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.” (You can read AU’s statement on SB8 here.)

Similiarly, Mississippi has only one clinic that provides abortions and is an “abortion desert,” said Michelle Colon, executive director and co-founder of SHERo (Sisters Helping Every woman Rise and Organize). She described the already existing barriers to abortion, like limited clinics, legal barriers and stigma as “an undue burden” on the people of Mississippi and surrounding states.

So what do we do about this? Demand the Senate pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA)! WHPA will make sure abortion remains legal no matter what happens to Roe, by establishing a statutory right for abortion providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions, bans and delays. If states continued to impose abortion restrictions that WHPA doesn’t allow, the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as providers and individuals, could go to court to enforce the right to abortion.

Take action now to tell your senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. Let’s make sure abortion remains a right in our country.

To ensure true freedom for all, we also need to make sure abortion isn’t just legal it’s accessible, affordable and supported in our communities. Local clinics and abortion funds, which help people access abortion, are important sources of information and organizations to lend your support.

And as state legislatures across the country reconvene in the new year, many will file legislation that threatens religious freedom and reproductive freedom. Sign up for updates about how to take action to protect the separation of church and state and equality for all.

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