Today, on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), issued the anticipated ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, allowing Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban to take effect and overturning the landmark case, Roe v. Wade. In 2021, YWCA USA lead a coalition of organizations in submitting an amicus brief in this case that details our firm support for access to the full range of reproductive care, including abortion. This decision means that the fundamental right to abortion is no longer protected by the Constitution, leaving the fate of those who must seek an abortion at the mercy of their state.
In response, YWCA USA CEO, Margaret Mitchell, released the following statement:
“In issuing this decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned more than 50 years of legal precedent, including its own, and has chosen to ignore the expertise of medical professionals, the clear will of the public, and the wisdom, dignity, and ability of all people who are able to become pregnant to make their own decisions about their bodies.
We are not shocked to learn that the Court has taken this shameful path, but it is nonetheless a gut-wrenching blow that will do deep, long-term harm to the economic stability, education, mental and physical health–and everything in between–of women and people who can become pregnant. This decision is particularly harmful to women and people of color, who are already marginalized in our healthcare systems and other institutions thanks to long legacies of structural sexism and racism. In states that have already passed so-called ‘trigger laws’ and other policies to ban or restrict abortion, we know that this decision will have an immediate and disproportionate impact on low-income women who already faced serious barriers to care and who are less likely to be able to take time off of work or travel across states or to other nations to legally access abortion care.
As the nation’s largest network of domestic abuse and sexual assault service providers, YWCA is deeply concerned about the implications of this decision in the context of well-documented links between access to abortion and intimate partner violence. In the United States, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for pregnant and postpartum women–and here again, it is women of color who will bear the burden of this Supreme Court decision: Women of color are more likely to suffer from intimate partner violence than their white counterparts, and Black women in particular face a maternal health crisis that leaves them at four times greater risk of dying due to a pregnancy-related death. Moreover, unintended pregnancies that result from pregnancy coercion and contraception sabotage by intimate partners are very real dangers in the context of domestic violence. While not all victims of abuse seek abortion care, the ability to have an abortion – or not – can have dire impacts.
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, lives, and families. Bodily autonomy and the right to have an abortion are fundamental rights, despite what this Court has ruled. YWCA USA applauds the District of Columbia and the sixteen states that have already passed laws to protect abortion in their jurisdictions and we vow to continue fighting back via any and all legislative paths.”