NEWS: No, Justice Alito, reproductive justice is in the Constitution

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Maternal Health

Editors Note:

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and reverse a legal precedent of nearly 50 years is no surprise. The willingness of the Court’s majority to disrespect the importance of women’s autonomy and catapult them backwards into a 19th century, second-class status speaks volumes about the majority’s lack of respect for women’s equality and individual dignity. This decision will put the lives of every woman and person who can give birth across race, ethnicity, disability, LGBTQ and immigration status at risk. It will endanger the lives of the most vulnerable among us who are struggling to make ends meet. It will have a disproportionately harmful effect on Black and Brown women, who experience the harshest health and economic disparities. These consequences not only jeopardize women’s health, they also threaten the economic stability of working women and especially women of color compounding the workplace and pay disparities they continue to face.

The National Partnership for Women & Families stands alongside the majority of people who oppose this reversal by the Supreme Court. We will join our allies in every corner of our country in defending and deepening the right of all people to access reproductive health care, to exercise control over their own bodies, and to live each day with freedom and dignity.

Find more information, resources, and action items here.

In light of the Dobbs v. Jackson Whole Women’s Health Supreme Court decision, we are sharing our weekly Repro Health News digest with a broader audience on the National Partnership blog. To have this digest delivered directly to your email inbox, subscribe today.


No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution

The New York Times, June 26, 2022

“Black women’s sexual subordination and forced pregnancies were foundational to slavery. If cotton was euphemistically king, Black women’s wealth-maximizing forced reproduction was queen. Ending the forced sexual and reproductive servitude of Black girls and women was a critical part of the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments. The overturning of Roe v. Wade reveals the Supreme Court’s neglectful reading of the amendments that abolished slavery and guaranteed all people equal protection under the law. It means the erasure of Black women from the Constitution. Mandated, forced or compulsory pregnancy contravenes enumerated rights in the Constitution, namely the 13th Amendment’s prohibition against involuntary servitude and protection of bodily autonomy, as well as the 14th Amendment’s defense of privacy and freedom. This Supreme Court demonstrates a selective and opportunistic interpretation of the Constitution and legal history, which ignores the intent of the 13th and 14th Amendments, especially as related to Black women’s bodily autonomy, liberty and privacy which extended beyond freeing them from labor in cotton fields to shielding them from rape and forced reproduction. The horrors inflicted on Black women during slavery, especially sexual violations and forced pregnancies, have been all but wiped from cultural and legal memory. Ultimately, this failure disserves all women. Overturning the right to abortion reveals the court’s indefensible disregard for the lives of women, girls and people capable of pregnancy, given the possible side effects and consequences of pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhaging, gestational hypertension, ectopic pregnancy and death. State-mandated pregnancy will exacerbate what are already alarming health and dignity harms, especially in states with horrific records of maternal mortality and morbidity.”

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U.S. Abortion Ruling Ignites Legal Battles Over State Bans

Reuters, June 29, 2022

“Battles over abortion shifted to state courts on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure nationwide, as judges blocked statewide bans in Louisiana and Utah and clinics in Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas sued seeking similar relief. The six are among the 13 states with ‘trigger laws’ designed to ban or severely restrict abortions once the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized a right to the procedure, as it did on Friday. In Louisiana, abortion services that had been halted since Friday began resuming after Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarrusso on Monday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from carrying out its ban. The order came shortly after Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport – one of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics – sued, arguing Louisiana’s trigger laws ‘lack constitutionally required safeguards to prevent arbitrary enforcement.’ Later on Monday in Utah, 3rd District Court Judge Andrew Stone, at the request of a Planned Parenthood affiliate, issued a temporary restraining order that would allow abortion services to resume in the state after a 2020 ban took effect on Friday. ‘Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight,’ Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said in a statement. Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said his office was ‘fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts.’ Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes did not respond to requests for comment. The rulings came as a flurry of lawsuits were filed nationally challenging Republican-backed abortion laws under state constitutions after Friday’s ruling by the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court.”

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How Overturning Roe Impacts Trans and Nonbinary Communities

Rewire News Group, June 22, 2022

“In early May, the Supreme Court’s leaked majority draft opinion signaled its intent to overturn Roe v. Wade. In such an event, 13 states would automatically ban abortion due to ‘trigger’ bans still on the books. Other states would enforce six-week bans that would outlaw abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant. With the rise of self-managed abortion and the support of abortion funds, people in these states will still have some options to safely terminate their pregnancies. But research shows that abortion restrictions create gaps in access that disproportionately affect low-income communities, communities of color, and young people. Abortion restrictions also harm trans men and nonbinary individuals, many of whom have the capacity to get pregnant and thus deserve access to abortion services. To understand how overturning Roe v. Wade will affect trans communities, we must consider the recent surge of anti-trans legislation across the United States. From prohibiting trans youth from competing in student athletics to criminalizing gender-affirming care, these laws claim to protect women and children. In reality, they’re about two things: controlling families and ensuring electoral support from the religious right. Sound familiar? The anti-abortion movement uses the same strategy. Compounding stigma and abortion access Abortion restrictions and their inflammatory rhetoric reinforce anti-abortion stigma. This has a ripple effect on access because when people internalize anti-abortion messages, they are less likely to reach out for emotional and practical support. My own research shows that how we talk about abortion shapes people’s actual abortion experiences. Anti-trans legislation has a similar stigmatizing effect. But politicians are not the only culprits.”

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Biden Administration Officials Offer Few Details on Medication Abortion Procedures

The 19th, June 28, 2022

“Despite President Joe Biden’s recent vows to use his presidential power to protect abortion rights, a top administration official declined to clarify when or how the executive branch would respond to growing enforcement of state laws that ban access to the procedure. When the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade Friday, Biden indicated he had directed his top health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, to explore all available options to preserve abortion access. Six states are now enforcing laws that ban all abortions. Three other states’ bans have been temporarily blocked. Both Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated last week that they believed the states’ bans on all abortions violate federal law. In particular, they cited efforts to ban access to mifepristone – one of the pills used to induce an abortion via medication, a safe and effective regimen used through the first trimester of pregnancy. Mifepristone for abortion has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and many legal scholars have argued that the federal approval could preempt state laws banning access to at least this particular method of abortion, which accounts for the majority of abortions done in America. A federal lawsuit challenging state-based medication abortion bans – and one that cites the FDA approval in particular – could, they argue restore some access in states that have begun to enforce abortion bans. But at a Tuesday briefing, Becerra would not say if or when the government plans to challenge those state laws banning medication abortion. ‘We will absolutely protect Americans’ rights to care under federal law and we will do everything we get to make sure Americans understand what their rights are,’ Becerra said. ‘What exactly that translates into depends on what a state tries to do.'”

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Lack of Paid Leave Complicates Interstate Abortion Travel

The American Prospect, June 29, 2022

“Since the Dobbs ruling taking away a woman’s right to determine her own medical care, a handful of large corporations have stepped up to provide up to $4,000 in travel expenses for employees who need an abortion but have no access to one in their states. This movement began with Yelp last fall, after the Texas abortion ban was cleared by the Supreme Court, and it grew after the leaked draft in the Dobbs case was released. The stance from these companies – mostly big financial companies, movie studios, entertainment conglomerates, tech firms, and a few large retailers – has led to various questions. First, is this just greenwashing-style PR to look socially conscious in public, while funding the politicians who pushed to overturn Roe v. Wade behind the scenes? Is this yet another corporate benefit that will have to be consistently bargained, and used by companies like Starbucks as a perk only for those workers not uppity enough to want a union? Is just the idea of having to ask your employer about obtaining an abortion another example of the insanity of tying health care to your job? These are all worthwhile questions. But the attention paid to the decisions of a sliver of employers is outsized compared to the real problem for those who need to obtain an abortion and don’t have access in their home state: A large portion of them don’t have paid medical leave, and therefore may have to choose between an abortion and their job. It’s certainly nice that PricewaterhouseCoopers and Google and Salesforce and other Fortune 500 companies are offering a travel benefit. But the staff of this kind of company has very little overlap with the typical universe of women seeking an abortion. About three-quarters of all women who obtain abortions are low-income, and half subsist below the federal poverty level. They are by and large not in the C-suites. Moreover, most of the companies that have announced this policy are headquartered in states that still have access to abortion.”

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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.