Almost a month after the landmark decision by the Supreme Court (2022) in the US, the official judgement to overturn Roe v Wade, removing the constitutional right to abortion, has been transmitted to the lower courts. This decision returned ‘the authority to regulate abortion’ to individual states in the US (Supreme Court, 2022).
The decision has caused a wave of backlash, with healthcare professionals and organisations in the US and on a global scale condemning the decision (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2022). It is thought that the repurcussions of this shocking judgement will be felt around the world, especially in countries where the original decision to enshrine access to abortion as a constitutional right in the US was used as a basis to establish abortion rights, such as Kenya (Sun, 2022).
At the beginning of July, a total of 13 states had ‘trigger laws’ ready to come into effect, banning all or nearly all abortions (Guttmacher Institute, 2022a). As of July 27, seven had restrictions in place designated as ‘most restrictive’ by the Guttmacher Institute (2022b), with only one state, Oregon, having measures designated ‘most protective’ and none with measures designated ‘very protective’.
In Oregon, abortion is not restricted based on gestational age and State Medicaid funds and private health insurance plans cover abortion, which can be provided by any qualified healthcare professional (Guttmacher Institute, 2022c). In Texas, one of the seven states to have the most restrictive policies, abortion is banned with very limited exceptions and is not covered by State Medicaid, while private health insurance that covers abortion is banned (Guttmacher Institute, 2022d).
McGovern (2022) described the effect of the Supreme Court decision as ‘chilling’ for reproductive healthcare. The impact for people who want or need an abortion across the US is distressing to contemplate, but McGovern (2022) urges ‘providers, advocates and activists across the country’ not to give up and to continue to fight for reproductive health rights, campaigning against restrictions and strengthening protections in those states where abortion remains legal. I would second that call, and fervently hope this shocking decision does not come to affect the rights of those seeking abortion here in the UK.