The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday that overturns the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to abortion.
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion… and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the high court said in its opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The decision sets the stage for a swift rollback of abortion rights in more than half of the United States. In that case, Mississippi’s sole abortion provider, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sued the state in 2020 after lawmakers banned abortions past 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape and incest. Thomas Dobbs has been the state’s chief health officer since 2018.
If this news leaves you concerned about what the future may hold for you, you are not alone.
“This is just a huge setback in the strides we’ve made for reproductive rights within this country,” says Dr. Joanne Stone, chair of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. “It’s been devastating to me to think about how this is going to impact women throughout the country.”
Black women will be especially hit hard because they start with worst health outcomes, have lower incomes, lack insurance and lack access to quality health care. Black women are also more likely to seek abortions due to lower access to contraceptives and their high risk of having dangerous pregnancy complications. For many Black women, these now illegal abortions can save their lives from something devastating happening while trying to give birth.
According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Black women are five times more likely to have abortions than white women, while Latina women are twice as likely.
More than one-quarter of all U.S. abortion clinics are expected to face eventual closure, as 202 facilities come under state-adopted abortion restrictions following the ruling, according to a report from the University of California, San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health center.
The decision will “particularly decimat[e] abortion access for pregnant people living in the South and Midwest, where most of these closures would occur,” the report said.
There are 26 states certain or likely to move quickly to ban or severely restrict abortion access following the court’s decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank. These include 13 states with so-called “trigger laws” in place that will ban or severely restrict abortion rights immediately or through quick state action.
States with trigger laws are