NEWS: How the fall of Roe v. Wade could impact abortion access across the world

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Repro Health Watch

How the Fall of Roe v. Wade Could Impact Abortion Access Across the World

The Hill, July 4, 2022

Abortion rights activists say the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will reverberate around the world, possibly restricting access to the procedure in other countries and weakening the global movement for reproductive rights. As part of the so-called Green Wave movement that started in Argentina, majority-Catholic countries across Latin America – including Colombia and Mexico – have recently legalized abortions. Across the Atlantic, Ireland has taken the same, previously unthinkable step. And in Asia, South Korea lifted a 66-year ban on abortions last year. Activists, however, are now concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling could fuel anti-abortion groups, reversing hard-fought gains or stifling efforts to expand abortion rights across the world. ‘What happens in the US doesn’t just impact the U.S., as we have seen in almost every issue, but it impacts everyone, everywhere,’ said Giselle Carino, the CEO of international reproductive rights alliance Fòs Feminista. She added that the rollback of abortion rights as part of a wider weakening of democratic institutions in the U.S. and in increasingly authoritarian countries around the world. As an example, Marcia Soumokil, director of abortion advocacy group Ipas Indonesia, said that she fears that the overturn of Roe v. Wade would give the Indonesian government – which already enforces restrictive abortion laws – cover by signalling that abortion access is ‘not human rights.’ Experts say that in many parts of the world, the U.S. is seen as an agenda-setter, with lawmakers pointing to U.S. domestic policies during their own domestic debates, ranging from reproductive rights to racism and police violence. The U.S. has a ‘huge, outsized influence’ on global sexual and reproductive health programs for family planning, reproductive health, and maternal and child health, Bethany Van Kampen Saravia, a senior legal and policy adviser for Ipas, added.”

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Abortion Laws by State: Legal Status of Abortion Changing Day-by-Day After Roe v. Wade

POLITICO, July 6, 2022

“Abortion laws are changing on a near-daily basis amid a volley of petitions from Republican attorneys general asking courts to allow their state bans to take effect and abortion-rights advocates hoping to have the prohibitions stalled or blocked. The patchwork of state laws and barrage of court filings means that for roughly half the country, the legal status of abortion remains uncertain nearly two weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Nine states have banned abortions either in almost all cases, unless necessary to save the life of the pregnant person, or after six weeks of pregnancy – a point at which many people don’t yet know they’ve conceived. Four have abortion bans poised to take effect in the coming days and weeks. And eight states have abortion bans on their books that have been blocked by the courts. In some of those states, the legal status of abortion has flipped back and forth multiple times since the Supreme Court’s decision last month. In Kentucky, the state’s abortion ban, which took effect on June 24, was temporarily blocked by the court on June 30 and is now scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday. In Ohio, the state’s six-week abortion ban took effect after a court lifted an injunction on the law on June 24. It was challenged in court on June 29, but was denied an emergency stay by the Ohio Supreme Court on Friday as litigation against it proceeds. In Texas, the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban was allowed to take effect under an order from the state Supreme Court on Friday, though the ban can only be enforced civilly, not criminally. Abortions had been allowed until fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy. In Florida, the state’s new 15-week abortion ban, which took effect on Friday, was briefly paused Tuesday by a judge before the state immediately appealed – triggering an automatic stay of the injunction and allowing the law to go back into effect. And in Mississippi, the state’s abortion ban was certified by the Republican attorney general on June 27, setting the trigger ban in motion to take effect on Thursday.”

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States Move to Protect Abortion From Prosecutions Elsewhere

ABC, July 6, 2022

“Democratic governors in states where abortion will remain legal are looking for ways to protect any patients who travel there for the procedure – along with the providers who help them – from being prosecuted by their home states. The Democratic governors of Colorado and North Carolina on Wednesday issued executive orders to protect abortion providers and patients from extradition to states that have banned the practice. Abortions are legal in North Carolina until fetal viability or in certain medical emergencies, making the state an outlier in the Southeast. ‘This order will help protect North Carolina doctors and nurses and their patients from cruel right-wing criminal laws passed by other states,’ Gov. Roy Cooper said in announcing the order. The governors of Rhode Island and Maine also signed executive orders late Tuesday, stating that they will not cooperate with other states’ investigations into people who seek abortions or health care providers that perform them. Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said women should be trusted with their own health care decisions, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said Rhode Island must do all it can to protect access to reproductive health care as ‘other states attack the fundamental right to choose.’ Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said she will ‘stand in the way of any effort to undermine, rollback, or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.’ Their offices confirmed Wednesday that they are preemptive, protective moves, and that neither state has received a request to investigate, prosecute or extradite a provider or patient. Their attempts to protect abortion rights come as tighter restrictions and bans are going into effect in conservative states after last month’s Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the nearly half-century-old holding from Roe v. Wade that found that the right to abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution. The issue reverts to the states, many of which have taken steps to curtail or ban abortions.”

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How Life-Threatening Must a Pregnancy Be to End It Legally?

NBC News, June 30, 2022

“The patient was seven weeks pregnant in Texas and experiencing kidney failure – what many doctors would consider a life-threatening condition. But abortions there are banned after a fetal heartbeat is detected (around six weeks into pregnancy) unless ‘a physician believes a medical emergency exists that prevents compliance.’ A full abortion ban is set to take effect in Texas in about a month, triggered by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. ‘I was like, ‘Don’t make her an appointment,” Dr. Jessica Rubino, an abortion provider at Austin Women’s Health Center, recounted telling her staff. ”Get her out of the state. Get on the phone with someone in another clinic and make sure she can get an abortion because I will not be able to do it here. I’m going to have to wait till she’s actually dying.” Rubino is not providing any abortions anymore, due to fears of legal culpability under Texas law. Texas’ current heartbeat ban enables private citizens to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion after about six weeks. If the lawsuit is successful, plaintiffs can receive up to $10,000. Then there’s a trigger law – designed to take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court issues its judgment – that makes abortion a felony with no exceptions for rape or incest. Providers can be fined at least $100,000 for each violation. Lawyers also warned Rubino that Texas has an old abortion ban that was never formally repealed after the original Roe decision. ‘My lawyer told me, ‘Unless they are on that table dying in front of you, you cannot do an abortion on them or you are breaking the law,” she said, adding, ‘How am I supposed to help people from jail?’ Many doctors now face a similar predicament. Most abortion bans that have gone into effect since Friday or will become law soon make exceptions for life-threatening situations that arise in pregnancy. But there’s no clear legal definition of which conditions qualify for those exceptions, or how severe they have to be for a doctor to perform an abortion free of liability. ‘What does the risk of death have to be, and how imminent must it be?’ Lisa Harris, a professor of reproductive health at the University of Michigan, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month.”

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Abuse, Discrimination, Exclusion: Transgender Men Explain Domino Effect of Losing Reproductive Care Post-Roe

The 19th, July 5, 2022

“The loss of federal abortion protections has launched America into a new reality: The ability to access abortion depends on where you live. Millions of people have been impacted by this shift, but among the most vulnerable are transgender men and nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. Without the abortion protections provided under Roe v. Wade, this group – already facing discrimination in medical treatment – suddenly are up against barriers that will be insurmountable for many. ‘It’s very hard for cis people to understand how scary it is to seek health care as a trans person,’ said Quinn Jackson, a trans primary care doctor in Kansas City, Kansas. ‘And I think that people who haven’t had abortions have no idea how scary it is to seek abortion care, especially in restrictive places. And very, very few people have any understanding of how scary it is to do those at the same time.’ The highest concentration of trans people in the United States live in the South, which is also where some of the most stringent abortion restrictions or bans are in place. But while some people who are seeking abortions will go out of state, others – especially Black trans people and other trans people of color – are often left with few or zero options. They are more likely to struggle with poverty and job discrimination, and many lack the financial resources to cover the procedure and ballooning costs of travel. As of 2015, nearly one-third of respondents to the U.S. Trans Survey, the most in-depth examination of transgender life in the country, were living in poverty – more than twice the rate of the rest of the country. The prospect of traveling hundreds of miles to another state to get an abortion, and doing it safely, is daunting – let alone finding a trans-competent abortion provider in a totally new area. Jamison Green, a former president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health who has written extensively about the lives of trans men, is worried that Roe being overturned coincides with rising violence targeting trans people, as more states introduce and pass anti-trans bills.”

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Note: The information contained in this publication reflects media coverage of women’s health issues and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Partnership for Women & Families.