How the Supreme Court decision affects the Nation as a Whole

roevwade

Regardless of a person’s political leanings or the religious sentiments, it is common knowledge in this country that despite several issues that divide the populous so thoroughly, there is almost nothing that can change an opinion. One such issue that the United States has grappled with is whether a people who can be pregnant should have the right to terminate a pregnancy should they not be prepared or want to parent for any reason. As a nation, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1973 that the right to seek an abortion was constitutionally guaranteed. This decision has been continuously and repeatedly challenged in the courts as 33 percent of the country has believed that this is not a choice that a people who can be pregnant should be able to make. As the nation awaits a ruling that will be handed down later in June of 2022, EVOLVE is seeking to create a space for discussion as to how this fundamental right being taken away will impact multiple areas of our lives into the future and what this will mean for social services.

As of June 2022 in the United States, the right for people who can be pregnant to choose to seek an abortion varies depending on the state that they live in. Though many states have restrictions of varying degrees, it is important to note that as of the time of writing, the right to seek an abortion is technically legal in 50 states. There are multiple states that have begun the process to ban this right, including Oklahoma which has banned the procedure (2). This effort has led to abortions being not only legal but also impossible to obtain in multiple states due to continual changes in state law. In 2021 alone, 663 provisions were drafted, with 108 of these provisions becoming law (1). These requirements have included requiring providers to have admitting privileges to hospitals in areas where no hospital will allow these practitioners access, documentation that needs to be completed which does not exist yet in the states imposing restrictions, requiring the buildings to be remodeled to meet differing criteria or to be moved out of certain neighborhoods all together even though they have been in operation for years without problems, and waiting periods of up to 72 hours. This last is potentially the most onerous, as the waiting periods occur most often after a forced ultrasound that the person who can be pregnant does not ask for and being required to listen to or receive lengthy lectures on the “risks of abortions” that are made up falsehoods to scare them from asking for the procedure (3). For those that have read the last statement and think ”well, doctors and clinics cannot purposefully lie or mislead someone,” it has been repeatedly noted by anti-choice crusaders that they will say and do whatever they need to in order to stop a someone from seeking an abortion (3). There has been no evidence or legitimate medical explanations put forward by those passing such laws as to the need of these restrictions or how they protect the health of anyone involved.

In the past two years, these laws have gotten more prohibitive and extreme across the county. They have morphed from restrictions on the process and the provider to now include threats of fines, arrests, and jail time for anyone providing, potentially receiving, or even just giving a ride to the services. Abortion restrictions now include banning abortions even in cases of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, pregnancies conceived through sexual assault, or if the fetus is a product of incest. These laws have attempted, and in several cases passed, to make it a crime to provide a legally available medical procedure by charging the doctor and anyone involved with murder. Other states have taken a differing approach: passing timeline restrictions form anywhere between 15 weeks of pregnancy to six weeks.  In the coming days and weeks, this right is likely to change drastically across the country depending on the coming ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the 15-week abortion restriction that is currently being decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.  A leaked draft memo written in February of 2022 revealed the support of five conservative justices for removing the constitutional guarantee and placing the decision with the states. This reversal of over 50 years of historical precedent would immediately remove the right of over 90 million U.S citizens to decide if an abortion should be accessible or not. To understand how this number was established, it is important to look at two types of restrictions currently in place across the country. The first of these restrictions are so called “trigger laws.” These are rules that have been passed by state legislatures that dictate, should Roe v. Wade be invalidated, abortion access will be completely banned in that state. This banning not only includes the midwestern states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Missouri but also encompass the states of Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming (4). The secondary set of restrictions include state constitutional bans that were invalidated when Roe v. Wade was decided. After the ruling, the understanding of legislatures was that the ruling would be final and not overturned, meaning they never struck these laws from state constitutions. The states included in these restrictions are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, and West Virginia, as well as the Midwest states of Wisconsin and Michigan (4). The population of these states combined is estimated at just over 90 million (5).

Though, at time of this writing, both Michigan and Wisconsin have stated that these bans would not be enforced, this statement is only due to Democratic Attorneys Generals stating that they will not pursue charges related to seeking or receiving an abortion with the support of Democratic governors in both states. Should that change, these states would most certainly change and restrict all access to abortion, which would be in line with the Republican legislatures and governors in Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska. Politicians in these states have all indicated that they would move forward with attempts to ban the practice in the state should the Supreme Court rule that abortion is not a constitutional right. Should all these states move forward, as they are expected to, an additional 32 million people that would lose this right (5). For those that are keeping track while reading this, one Supreme court case, being decided by five conservative judges, four of whom are men, would lead to 37 percent of the US population losing the choice to seek an abortion.

As noted previously, abortion access is still legal across the country, and its access will vary based on the state. As EVOLVE is based in Minnesota, we wanted to look at the Midwest region to share what current laws are at this time. In Minnesota, it is legal for a people who can be pregnant to seek an abortion for any reason until 20 weeks of pregnancy (7). Though the procedure is not required to be covered by insurance companies, the state supreme court did rule that the procedure was required to be covered for anyone on medical assistance through the state or federal government (7). With this ruling, Minnesota became one of three states whose Supreme Court has ruled that abortion access is constitutionally guaranteed in the state. Minnesota, however, is not without our own restrictions. Previous laws have directed a person who can be pregnant seeking an abortion “receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided” (7). For anyone under the age of 18, it is possible to seek an abortion procedure, but there are restrictions as well. First, there must be notification to the parents or legal guardians of the child before the procedure can occur. The youth does not have to notify parents/guardians if they seek a court order from a judge with a credible reason as to why the parents/guardians should not be notified. A credible reason can include, but is not limited to, sexual assault, incest, and abuse.

For surrounding states, we will note briefly what restrictions or guarantees are in place but encourage others to read more on other midwestern states. In Illinois, abortion is legal until 24 weeks. There is not a requirement for parental consent, though a guardian over 21 does need to be notified. There are also no requirements for counseling or waiting periods. In Iowa, though abortion is legal, it is extremely difficult to obtain  due to an order passed by the Republican governor in 2020 that restricted abortion as unnecessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People who can be pregnant have the ability to seek an abortion until 20 weeks of pregnancy, but if they are under the age of 18, they are required to notify that person’s parents. The state legislature, in 2022, also attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban the practice entirely. In Michigan, it is legal to seek an abortion until around 24 weeks of pregnancy; however, there is a waiting period, required counseling for a woman seeking a procedure, and one parent needs to consent to the procedure if the pregnant person is under 18. In Missouri, it is required to have both parents consent if the pregnant person is under 18 years old. There is a waiting period for those receiving the procedure, and they are required to receive counseling beforehand. The state passed a “Fetal Heartbeat Bill” in 2019, which would have denied the right to an abortion for any person if a heartbeat is detected during ultrasound (typically occurring around 8 weeks). This law was overturned by a federal judge, and the U.S Supreme Court did not take up the ruling, thus leaving the states 24-week limit. In North Dakota, a person who can be pregnant seeking an abortion is required to be given information related to the fetus, including “informed consent,” whether asked for or not. There is also a required waiting period and mandatory counseling before they can receive a procedure. The state also passed a fetal heartbeat bill that was later blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th circuit. In South Dakota, people who can be pregnant do still have access to abortions. Despite this access, they are required to receive graphic and inflammatory information before seeking the procedure. Finally, in Wisconsin, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks. There is a required waiting period, as well as counseling and notification of at least one parent if the child is under the age of 18. All the previous paragraph’s information can be located on Wikipedia, with the exact page link located at the bottom of this article (6).

This look into the current laws of each state and what the future can potentially hold can cause many to wonder if there is anything that can be done or what this will mean for the nation. In short, there is no true answer to either of those questions. In terms of actions that can be taken to protect this reproductive right, it would mean petitioning states to ensure that abortion access is enshrined in state constitutions and laws to protect it for future generations. This solution is optimistic but sadly not realistic. Those wishing to advocate can reach out to their federal representatives and senators to push for the enshrinement of Roe in federal law as well, but there is no current clear path due to the current make-up of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. We will not ultimately know the final outcomes until the U.S. Supreme Court makes its final ruling later this month. Overall, it is important to note the current laws of your state and to understand how this issue affects you personally. Politically, identify who you can support that validates and backs up your beliefs.

As the nation waits for a final ruling, we need to understand the rights we have currently and how we can best support those that are around us when and if a major decision is made. We do not know how a ruling will affect the Midwest or the state of Minnesota until a decision comes down. In the meantime, we wait to see what will happen to this constitutionally guaranteed right and what will happen in the future.

Last Week Tonight. (2018). Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Hbo). YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NNpkv3Us1I.

Nash, E., & Cross, L. (2022, June 15). 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion without Roe: Here’s which ones and why. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/10/26-states-are-certain-or-likely-ban-abortion-without-roe-heres-which-ones-and-why

Nash, E., & Guttmacher Institute. (2022, January 12). State policy trends 2021: The Worst Year for abortion rights in almost half a century. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/12/state-policy-trends-2021-worst-year-abortion-rights-almost-half-century

Seeberger, C., Assistant, S., Spitzer, E., Taylor, J., Adhikari, J., Ross, K., Pathak, A., Olinsky, B., & Ndumele, N. L. (2022, June 9). 2022 state abortion bans are a patchwork of increasingly extreme laws. Center for American Progress. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.americanprogress.org/article/2022-state-abortion-bans-are-a-patchwork-of-increasingly-extreme-laws/

US States – Ranked by Population 2022. US states – ranked by population 2022. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://worldpopulationreview.com/states

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, June 20). Abortion in the United States by State. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_United_States_by_state#Wisconsin

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