In this Power Talk, Ms.’s Roxy Szal spoke with four reproductive health experts— Power to Decide CEO Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley and VP of policy Rachel Fey; PRH’s Jennifer Blasdell; and State Innovation Exchange’s Jennifer Driver—on restrictions to reproductive healthcare and how advocates and lawmakers can protect abortion and contraception access.
On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Mississippi’s brief in Dobbs claims Roe v. Wade must be overturned because “scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability.”
But aren’t women human beings? The answer must be: Yes, and they must be able to control their lives, their reproduction and their bodies.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in one of three abortion cases before the Court this term that will determine the future of abortion rights in the U.S. EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Cameron involves a Kentucky law effectively banning abortion at 15 weeks. The law blocks physicians from providing a medically safe and standard abortion method called dilation and evacuation, or “D&E.”
“Two courts already held that this law violates the rights of Kentuckians. The Supreme Court ought to put an end to the attorney general’s attempts to force people to continue their pregnancies against their will.”
On Wednesday, a federal district court in Texas temporarily blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a 113-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin ruled that the law—S.B. 8—is an unconstitutional violation of the right to abortion established by previous Supreme Court cases.
“From the moment SB8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” said Judge Pitman. “This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”
More abortion restrictions have been enacted this year than any other, with 19 statehouses passing 106 new limitations on the procedure. A dozen of the new restrictions include some form of a complete ban on abortion.
This is the first time that the Guttmacher Institute, which has compiled this data annually since 1973, has counted more than 100 abortion restrictions passed in a single year. In 2011, the only other year since 1973 to come close, 89 restrictions on abortion were passed across the country.
The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee held hearings Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, to hear from activists, lawmakers and other members of society on their perspectives on abortion access and S.B. 8. Here are 10 powerful moments from the hearings.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case concerning a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, federal abortion rights enter a precarious state. States around the country have also set up “trigger laws”—abortion bans—that are ready to go into effect the moment Roe gets overturned. As attacks on abortion rights escalate, federal legislation guaranteeing reproductive rights is needed more than ever.
On Sept. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed an unconstitutional Texas abortion ban to go into effect. While the Supreme Court did not rule on the law’s merits, the decision is a chilling harbinger of how they may rule in an upcoming case—Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—on whether previability abortion bans are unconstitutional.
Many are fighting back.