Today, June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), issued the anticipated ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This means that abortion is no longer Constitutionally protected in the United States, leaving this fundamental right at the mercy of state governments and creating a patchwork of jurisdictions where abortion care will be available. Read on to learn more about what this means, some of the ways this ruling will impact the communities YWCA serves, and for action steps you can take to continue to advocate for safe, legal abortion.
Abortion has or will soon become illegal in 26 states, including 13 states – known as “trigger” states – that already had laws on the books to ban abortion as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned. Before this publication and Supreme Court decision, 16 states and the District of Columbia had passed laws to protect abortion.
YWCA FULLY SUPPORTS ACCESS TO ABORTION
YWCA has supported abortion as a fundamental right for the last 50 years. In fact, YWCA USA led a coalition of partner organizations in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court commenting on this case and outlining our unwavering support for access to abortion care.
Make no mistake; this is a devastating moment for all communities.
But, here are three key reasons why this means so very much for our YWCA family and the people we serve:
- As the largest network of domestic violence service providers in the nation, we recognize the deep connection between sexual violence and abortion.
- Abortion bans are unnecessarily triggering for survivors, who are already working to heal from attacks on bodily autonomy.
- A number of states fail to provide for rape and incest exemptions – forcing disclosure and, deplorably, proof from survivors in order to gain a safe, legal abortion, further violating a birthing person’s power over their own body.
- As our domestic and sexual violence service providers know all too well, there’s a wealth of research demonstrating the inextricable links between access to abortion and intimate partner violence.
- Women of color, particularly Black women, will be disproportionately impacted, as they experience intimate partner violence at higher rates than their white counterparts.
- As a federation of organizations dedicated to the elimination of racism and discrimination, YWCA recognizes abortion bans and restrictions as direct assaults on women and birthing people of color, people with disabilities, people who are low-income or living in poverty, and the LGBTQ community.
- Thanks to deeply embedded racist and sexist legacies in the U.S. health care and other systems, these groups are already navigating and suffering the consequences of discriminatory systems.
- We are at crisis levels for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) maternal deaths, which are three to four times higher than for their white counterparts. Banning abortion strips medical professionals and pregnant people – including those beyond 15 weeks – of making those decisions and will further exacerbate this crisis.
- As an organization that fights for economic and educational justice for women and girls – especially women and girls of color – we know that lack of access to abortion has long-term negative consequences, impacting everything from educational achievement to financial security.
- In particular, for low-income people and those living in poverty, abortion bans are especially devasting. Access to workplace accommodations, like paid sick days and reliable scheduling are critical for those seeking abortion care. However, women of color disproportionately occupy jobs that offer neither, adding another layer of barriers for these groups.
- Low-income people are more likely to rely on public transportation or to share a car with a spouse or other household members, making physical transportation a very real barrier to accessing abortion care. Not surprisingly, several states that already had deeply paternalistic abortion and reproductive health care laws – like the trigger states noted above – are least likely to invest money in infrastructure and public transport.
- For people with disabilities, who are disproportionately low income or living in poverty and who are less likely to have job stability than their non-disabled counterparts, experience the negative impacts of abortion bans even more acutely.
As Margaret Mitchell, CEO of YWCA USA, noted in a statement released earlier today, “We, and our communities, deserve better. We deserve leaders who trust pregnant persons to know what is right for their own bodies and lives. We deserve to live free from the threat of being criminalized for making decisions about our health, our lives, and our families. Bodily autonomy and the right to have an abortion are fundamental rights, despite what this Court has ruled.”
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to ignore half a century of legal precedent, guidance from the medical community, and, of course, the wisdom of people to know how to govern their own bodies, we can – and must – fight back. These three next steps can help you get started:
- Tell your senators to support the Women’s Health Protection Act (4132), which would protect abortion access through legislative action.
- Do what you can to support state abortion funds and other, local abortion and reproductive health funds, like this one, led by YWCA Kalamazoo. These funds provide logistical and financial support for those seeking abortion care.
- VOTE IN NOVEMBER. This fall, thousands of seats — from the U.S. House and Senate to governors and state and local legislators and officials – are up for grabs. Visit our GOTV page — which will continue to be updated — to learn more and to help ensure members of your community are registered to vote.
We will rise together, we will hold space for the losses that are sure to come in our communities together, and — most importantly — we will continue to fight for the nation YWCA envisions; one free of racism and sexism, and one in which women and girls — particularly women and girls of color — can reach their full potential.