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As Roe v Wade turns 50, what has changed since the landmark abortion ruling was overturned?

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Today marks the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the landmark United States Supreme Court decision that enshrined abortion as a constitutional right.

Roe vs. Wade was reversed last June, giving the power to decide on the right to abortion to 50 states to be determined individually.

This sparked a wave of change. Abortion bans were introduced, lawsuits were filed, clinics were closed. Here’s what happened in the seven months since the cancellation of abortion rights in the United States.

First of all, what is Roe v Wade?

Roe v Wade refers to the 1973 Supreme Court case That said, the government could not ban abortions because the constitutional right to liberty includes the right to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy.

Roe refers to Texas woman Norma McCorvey – known as Jane Roe – who challenged state abortion laws after she was unable to obtain a pregnancy termination in 1969 because her life was not in danger. Wade is District Attorney Henry Wade, who championed anti-abortion laws.

The court ruling meant that every woman in the United States had the right to an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Another decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1982 – built on this by saying states could not have laws that create a “substantial impediment” to a woman seeking an abortion until 24 weeks.

States ban abortion

In 12 states, there are now near-total bans on abortion. In five of those states, the ban is being challenged in court but remains in effect.

The 12 states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

Two other states – North Dakota and Wisconsin – have no bans in place, but abortions are unavailable as clinics have closed.

Georgia has banned abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy, severely limiting access to terminations because so many women don’t find out they’re pregnant — and have time to arrange the procedure — before the marks mark. six weeks.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in reproductive health, these 15 states are home to nearly 22 million women between the ages of 15 and 49. This means that nearly one-third of American women of childbearing age live in states where abortion is either unavailable or severely restricted. .

Other states may follow

Nine other states have introduced abortion restrictions that would have been unconstitutional under Roe v Wade, have bans currently blocked in court, or are likely to introduce bans in the near future.

Arizona and Florida don’t allow abortions beyond 15 weeks, while Utah has an 18-week ban.

In three states — Indiana, Wyoming and Ohio — near-total or early pregnancy bans have been blocked in state courts for now, but lawmakers have indicated they intend to fight them.

In Iowa, Montana and Nebraska, anti-abortion politicians have indicated they want to ban abortion soon, but abortion care remains available for now.

What happened to abortion clinics?

At least 66 abortion clinics have stopped offering abortion care in the 15 states where abortion is banned or strictly regulated.

The loss of these clinics is felt nationwide, according to the Guttmacher Institute, as clinics in states where abortion remains legal are inundated with people traveling from state to state.

As the institute explains: “These dramatic increases in the number of cases mean that clinic capacity and staffing are stretched to their limits, resulting in longer wait times for appointments, even for patients. residents of states where abortion remains legal.”

A to study of the Society of Family Planning estimated that the number of legal abortions nationwide fell by more than 10,000 in the two months following the overturning of Roe v Wade, although some women may have sought abortion pills in private.

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The abortion revolution in the United States

Worsening inequalities

Many states that have banned or restricted abortion have high proportions of black, Latina, and Indigenous women.

Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation has revealed how the cancellation of Roe v Wade disproportionately impacts women of color, as they are more likely to have abortions, have more limited access to health care, and face barriers to traveling out of state for an abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute further notes that “low-income people…trans and non-binary men, immigrants, adolescents, and people with disabilities are all particularly likely to experience compounding barriers to abortion care and be harmed”.

Some states have introduced protections

While the United States has seen a major rollback in abortion rights, there is good news for pro-choice activists.

Kansas voters right to abortion protected in the state constitution by rejecting an amendment that would have allowed lawmakers to restrict access to abortion.

New York will provide free abortion pills at four public clinics, making its health department the first in the nation to offer free medical abortion.

Midterm, voters in five states chose to protect reproductive rights. Vermont, Michigan and California added protections to their state constitutions while voters in Kentucky rejected an amendment that would have removed all abortion rights protections from the constitution.

In Montana, a bill that could have criminalized doctors for performing abortions was defeated.

Read more:
How a secret network provided thousands of abortions in the United States
US state clinics offer free vasectomies after surge in demand

Allie Utley, left, and Jae Moyer, center, of Overland Park react during a primary watch party Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at the Overland Park (Kan.) Convention Center.  Kansas voters on Tuesday protected the right to abortion in their state, rejecting a measure that would have allowed their Republican-controlled legislature to tighten restrictions on abortion or ban it outright.  (Tammy Ljungblad/The Kansas City Star via AP)
Picture:
Kansas voters react with joy after abortion rights vote

Medical abortions

Medical abortions account for the majority of abortions in the United States – in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, abortion pills were used in 53% of cases.

Early evidence suggests they have become even more popular since the cancellation of Roe v Wade – a to study suggested that the number of people seeking medical abortions has tripled.

In early January, the Food and Drug Administration changed its rules to allow retail pharmacies in the United States to dispense abortion pills for the first time.

However, abortion pills are now seen as the next frontier in the fight of anti-abortion activists and they are working to restrict access.

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