5 min read
by Meg Loughman | 09/22/2022
Abortion care is essential reproductive healthcare — and reproductive healthcare is a human right. By rolling back more than 50 years of reproductive rights for millions of people, the June 2022 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that has historically protected abortion rights, is paving the way for states to limit and criminalize necessary access to safe healthcare for those who need it now — and for future generations.
Aligned in our beliefs that every person should have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, Thinx has teamed up with the Center for Reproductive Rights as our cart donation partner, matching donations up to $10,000 to support the Center’s vital work in advancing reproductive rights as human rights around the globe.
In an effort to better understand the future of reproductive health, we sat down with Ashley Gray — the Senior Advisor for State Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships at the Center for Reproductive Rights — to talk more about the United States’ post-Roe landscape.
Thinx: How could the overturning of Roe v. Wade impact access to birth control? What about access to contraceptives and assisted reproduction-related healthcare like in vitro fertilization (IVF)?
Ashley Gray: The impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will undeniably reverberate beyond abortion, putting at risk people’s rights to make deeply personal decisions regarding our reproductive lives and futures.
In the wake of Roe being struck down, we have been seeing incredibly concerning questions being raised about the constitutional right to access contraception. Some have even called for the overturning of another Supreme Court decision, Griswold v. Connecticut, which recognized this crucial right. Contraception is already difficult to access across the country, especially for people living on low incomes.
Another concern is personhood laws, which are vague measures that grant embryos and fetuses “personhood” status under the law — meaning that laws applying to people also apply to fetuses or embryos. These dangerous laws could have far-reaching repercussions on access to a wide range of reproductive health care services, from abortion to in vitro fertilization (IVF). These laws could significantly impact IVF patients’ ability to make decisions about their IVF care, including what to do with frozen embryos.At the same time, access to IVF services could be pushed even further out of reach as providers in restrictive states are forced to navigate these laws, potentially making care even more expensive. People who are uninsured and already struggle to afford fertility care may be cut off from vital services needed to build their family.
Access to essential health care is in real peril in the U.S., and the unfolding public health crisis will undoubtedly continue to get worse.
What are some options for those who face the tough choice of having an abortion, especially in abortion-hostile states? What does access across state lines look like?
AG: Large swaths of the South and Midwest have extremely limited access to abortion care, forcing people to travel thousands of miles and across state lines in order to obtain the services they want or need, if they can. Clinics in states where abortion remains legal are seeing a huge uptick in patients and thus longer wait times for appointments, which pushes care even further out of reach for everyone.
But the crushing reality is that most people will not be able to afford or take the time needed to make the long journey for abortion care, and will be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will. We will soon see the widespread consequences of generations being denied the right to make decisions about their own bodies and health.
How does this affect people by class, race, and other demographics? What is that impact on the economy and government?
AG: The profound harms of abortion restrictions fall hardest on communities of color, low-income communities, rural communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and young people, all of whom already face insurmountable barriers in accessing health care. Without access to abortion services, people are forced to face the life-threatening risks that come with pregnancy and childbirth, including preeclampsia and even death. The U.S. is already facing a maternal health crisis which disproportionately impacts Black and brown communities. Black women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications compared to white women. These risks are even higher in the South. In Mississippi, it is about 75x more dangerous to carry a pregnancy to term than to have an abortion. As overzealous state lawmakers increasingly restrict abortion and reproductive health care, people will continue to suffer.
Additionally, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe will significantly set back the gains we’ve made on gender equality over the past 30+ years. In fact, there is research showing that after Roe was decided, young women’s access to abortion increased the probability of finishing college by nearly 20% and the probability of entering the workforce by nearly 40%. This was especially the case for Black women. Further, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found the devastating impacts on the economy, estimating that state-level abortion restrictions cost state economies $105 billion per year due to factors such as the decrease in labor force participation and earnings level among women.
Abortion is a fundamental right and an essential form of health care. Access to the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare including abortion care is critical for societies to prosper and thrive.
What can we do to help someone we know in a difficult situation? How can we help change existing laws or fight for new ones that protect those who need it?
It is more important than ever for everyone to voice and show their support for abortion rights. This includes supporting abortion clinics and abortion funds who are on the frontlines helping those seeking abortion care. Those in restrictive states who are seeking abortion care can also be directed to www.ineedana.com in order to find the nearest abortion provider. People can also advocate for local and state-level abortion protections, as well as ask their congressional representatives to support federal legislation to protect abortion access like the Women’s Health Protection Act which would restore and protect abortion access across the country.
The road may be long, but this is everyone’s fight. We will continue to work tirelessly at the local, state, and federal levels to build a society where everyone has the ability to control their own bodies, lives, and futures.
Meg Loughman (she/her) is a bayou-born, Brooklyn-based writer & content strategist. When she’s not journaling to lofi beats at a cafe somewhere, she likes to moodboard and partake in slow, luxurious breakfasts. You can keep up with her work on her website and tune into her sporadic dispatches & musings on Instagram.
by Meg Loughman