Attacks on abortion affect us all. We must unite to protect our reproductive freedom.
By Aayaan Jamwal, Alexandra Byron, Lauren Himiak and Nicholas Drushella
We are in the midst of a coordinated attack — at unprecedented levels — on our constitutional right to abortion. For decades, anti-abortion lawmakers have been chipping away at reproductive freedom, reducing access to health care and punishing those who decide to get an abortion. These laws do not exist for any other type of health care and are designed to keep safe, legal care out of reach. Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court about to weigh in on a Mississippi law that puts a ban on abortions at 15-weeks, we are in an all hands on deck state of emergency that requires collective action to protect our legal right to bodily autonomy and control of if, when and how people choose to start a family. Please join Metropolitan Group in taking immediate steps to save our constitutional right and in a commitment to strengthening the narrative that abortion is a fundamental element of health care.
From January to June 2021, 561 abortion restrictions, including 165 abortion bans, have been introduced across 47 U.S. states. These restrictions violate the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which protects a pregnant person’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government interference. The legal precedent set by Roe v. Wade allows people who are pregnant to determine what is best for their health, families and futures. That right is about to be overturned.
On December 1, the Supreme Court will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a case involving a ban on abortions at 15 weeks in Mississippi. The state, which only has one abortion clinic, now holds the power to give the court’s justices an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade for the entire country. This decision would not only diminish the court’s credibility but would lead to national upheaval with sweeping consequences for us all.
If (more likely when) Roe v. Wade is overturned, 11 states will instantaneously ban abortion. That means 41% of people of childbearing age would see the nearest abortion clinic close. The average travel distance to reach a clinic would increase to 279 miles, making access for people — particularly those with low incomes — extremely difficult. Among people seeking an abortion in the U.S., 75% are experiencing low wealth and 49% live below the poverty level.
We’re already seeing a terrifying preview of how this will play out. Just this month, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to block a Texas law (Senate Bill 8) that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a calculated time frame in which most people do not yet realize they are pregnant. Providers have emphasized that this law will leave at least 85% to 90% of patients without access to care. This extreme law is also designed to intimidate and includes a bounty-hunting scheme, rewarding private individuals with $10,000 if they successfully sue doctors, health center workers, drivers, or any person who helps someone obtain an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
Too many people lack the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to have or raise a child. These barriers are not random or accidental; they are examples of structural racism and socioeconomic inequality purposely built into policies and decisions. The 561 abortion restrictions passed just this year in addition to Texas’ new law and the December Supreme Court decision have disproportionate impacts on Black, Brown and Indigenous people as well as people living with disabilities, people experiencing poverty and/or people who identify as LGBTQIA2S+. People living at the intersections of these communities are particularly at risk.
This is not just a domestic issue. Abortion rights have felt the weight of religious and political ideologies as justification for turning back the clock on reproductive rights around the world (e.g., Poland and El Salvador). Anti-abortion advocates and leaders have used religion and the issue of morality to justify the extreme attacks on the right to choose. And while some progress has been made, including in the 31 countries that have expanded access to abortion since 2000 (including Mexico, which recently decriminalized abortion) we are seeing many nations, including the U.S., attacking people’s constitutional right to safe, accessible and equitable abortion care.
The time is NOW to take collective action:
- Tell Congress to address the crisis of abortion access and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).
- Find out where your state leaders stand on Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion, then write to them.
- Support young people’s Power to Decide.
- Donate to or volunteer with grassroots organizations, like the National Network of Abortion Funds, in your state and community.
Not taking action on abortion today is taking a stance on abortion. In this moment, we have a tremendous opportunity to collaborate, invest in technologies like telehealth, and drive narrative change to counter misinformation and truly advance health, gender equity and well-being. It’s time to go beyond just dreaming of what we want health care to look like, and to individually and collectively take action at the intersection of public health, equity and advocacy to protect our rights.
We remain deeply grateful to the activists, advocates, physicians, nurses, lawyers, policymakers, volunteers and all who continue to support and advance our constitutional right to abortion, and to protect our reproductive freedom.
To continue this discussion with us, please email our Public Health team at email@example.com. We want to hear from you.