It’s actually happened in the United States. The Supreme Court has overturned the almost 50-year old Constitutional right to an abortion, following the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization back in June.
The decision sees a handful of conservatives – where such judges hold a 6-3 supermajority in the court – removing power and control from women. Not just their reproductive rights, but also their economic rights and empowerment, their rights to health and safety.
More than 20 states are expected to now immediately introduce stricter or abortion laws, or issue bans on access to abortion.
It’s a decision that will ultimately divide the nation further, and is expected to trigger a flurry of states outlawing abortion across the country. While abortion rights will be protected (at least for now) in other states, giving some opportunity for women to cross borders if they need, the ability to access abortion will come down to the ability to travel.
As for those who’ll be most impacted? Poor and already marginalised women. Those who can afford to travel to abortion services will likely (for now) be able to access what they need — but it’ll be a very different story for those who can’t.
Early research out of Texas, ten months since the state issued a ban on abortions beyond six weeks, this divide is already present. Hundreds of women are believed to have been able to travel and cross borders to access services.
But those women who couldn’t travel – because a boss wouldn’t give them time off work, they couldn’t afford the gas or they didn’t have access to travel – are now having their babies. Meet this 18 year old, who found out she was pregnant two days after the ban came into effect, and now has twins.
This latest decision is not a full surprise, given the draft decision that was made public weeks ago.
Nor is it one that happened overnight, or start (or end) with those who voted to overturn Roe V. Wade.
Rather, this shift comes as the result of tectonic shifts in US politics — from Trump getting elected, to conservatives stacking the supreme court and to fundamentalists taking control over women’s rights. Three of the justices currently on the Supreme Court were handpicked by Trump, with the intention that this constitutional right would be overturned.
Already, numerous groups and organizations across the US are expressing their outrage over this decision.
“The decision is illegitimate”
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a stirring speech following the decision, and joined protests outside the Supreme Court, declaring “this decision is illegitimate” and urging people to get “into the streets”.
“Every single one of us has woken up today with less rights than we had yesterday,” adding that pregnant people in particular are in more danger today, than they were yesterday.
“I think what we’re experiencing here, it’s important to tell the truth of what’s going on.
“It’s important to tackle this myth that this is somehow about babies, or children, or life.
“The same individuals who claim to be protecting life, then fight against universal healthcare. Do they believe in universal childcare? Do they believe in life after birth? From their policy positions, I assure you. The evidence is lacking.
“A party of individuals that claims to be protecting the lives of children, just weeks after a dozen children died in Texas, now claim to protect their lives. Who are we protecting? Who does this protect? No one.
“Overturning Roe, puts every single one of us in danger. “