The Current State of Abortion in The United States
Content Warning: This article discusses sexual trauma and other sensitive subjects.
Another quick disclaimer – the face of abortion in the United States is changing rapidly. This article was written at the beginning of July 2022, but things are changing on a daily basis. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of the rug that’s been pulled out from anyone with a uterus in the United States. Abortions are a fundamental part of reproductive health and choice.
People all over the world are protesting the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the aftermath that has rippled through the United States. This has affected not only abortion rights but reproductive health as a whole. We’re going to give you a glimpse into the complex issue that is abortion rights (or lack thereof) in the United States.
This History of Roe v Wade
Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court (federal) decision in the United States that ruled that the right to abortion is protected by the United States Constitution. Before this, there were many stipulations and various laws throughout the U.S. that limited access to abortion.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court in 1969 when a woman named Norma McCorvey, or “Jane Roe” became pregnant with her third child and wanted an abortion. She lived in Texas where at the time, abortions were only legal when it was necessary to save the pregnant person’s life. The ruling, which was in her favor, was brought all the way to the Supreme Court, where finally in 1973 they ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy”, which protects a pregnant person’s right to abortion. Until now.
What’s Happening in The U.S. Now?
On June 24, 2022, Roe V Wade was officially overturned by the Supreme Court. After nearly half a century the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists. In just a short amount of time that has radically reduced or eliminated access to abortion in many states.
In just a number of days, thirteen states have outright banned abortion. Many of these bans were thanks to “trigger laws”. These were laws that were designed to take effect quickly or automatically in the event that Roe v Wade was overturned. Many of these laws are “six-week bans”, banning abortion after six weeks gestation, which is before many people even know that they’re pregnant.
These states are:
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
Thirteen more states are expected or likely to ban abortion, or extremely limit it:
- West Virginia
States where abortion is protected or very protected include:
- New Mexico
- New York
- New Jersey
Abortions Are Essential Health Care
It goes without saying, but we believe that you should never have to justify your abortion decision to anyone. That being said, there are so many reasons for abortions, many of which are essential healthcare decisions – although any abortion is an essential healthcare decision.
Some reasons for abortion include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Personal choice – finances, timing, life plan, not ready, don’t want more kids, etc.
- Ectopic Pregnancy
- Pregnancy from sexual assault or rape
- Concern for fetus’s health
- Concern for pregnant person’s health
- Terminating a pregnancy where multiple embryos have been implanted during IVF
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many reasons why someone would need or want an abortion, and it’s imperative that they have access to it.
Know Your Options
If you live in a state where access to abortions is limited or outlawed, it’s vital to know your rights and options.
As of now, interstate travel for abortions is still legal. Meaning that you can travel from one state to another to access abortion. Of course, this takes resources and time that many people don’t have, which is a huge discussion in itself. The Brigid Alliance helps people navigate the costs and logistical barriers towards interstate abortion travel.
The Abortion Pill
Again, as of now, it’s still legal to obtain the abortion pill, or medication abortion, in many places where you may otherwise have limited access to abortions. Unfortunately, the abortion pill isn’t a solution for people who require surgical abortion for medical reasons.
Further Resources on Abortion
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the complexity that is abortion rights in the United States, and again, it’s constantly changing and may have even changed since this article was written. For more information on abortion rights and accessibility in the United States, you can check out these resources:
Hey Jane for discreet abortion pills delivered to your home.
Planned Parenthood for updated information about your rights, options, and how to get involved.
Guttmacher Institute for updated research, maps, and information on abortion and reproductive health.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.