What Happens If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?

What Happens If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?

The Supreme Court leaked a draft opinion earlier this week, revealing that the high court may overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion. If the Supreme Court overturned the case, the legality of abortion would be up to each state. According to preliminary reports, 26 states will either ban or restrict access to abortion upon overturning Roe v. Wade

A 2017 study found that about one in four women in the U.S. are expected to get an abortion at some point during their lives. Experts noted that about 40 million women of reproductive age currently live in states that are “hostile” towards abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade would have a massive impact in states across the country. And although the leaked document is authentic, it doesn’t represent a Supreme Court decision or the final position of any member on the issues of the case.

What Is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. Jane Roe was a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, a 22-year old unmarried, unemployed pregnant woman for the third time in 1969. She sought to have an abortion in Texas, but she had given birth to a girl, whom she placed for adoption, prior to the 1973 ruling. Henry Wade was the district attorney in Dallas, Texas. His job was to enforce a state law that prohibited abortion, unless it would save a woman’s life. McCorvey sued him when she sought her abortion in 1969. 

The Current Case On Abortion Rights

Mississippi’s attorney general asked the court to undo Roe v. Wade in December of 2021. The attorney general wanted to modify the Roe v. Wade ruling to no longer have protections around abortions before fetal viability, around 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, there will likely be an increase in laws or proposed laws that restrict abortion to earlier than 15 weeks. The ensuing laws or bans will entirely depend on the Supreme Court’s decision. The decision on the case is expected by June or July 2022. 

The Future Without Roe v. Wade

Currently, there are more than 20 states that could restrict or ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. A “trigger law,” a type of statute, is designed to take effect after a Supreme Court ruling. Some states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that are not currently enforced, but they’re on the books. Other laws intend for states to crack down on abortion, provided the Supreme Court permits that to happen. 

If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, states that continue to allow abortion may see an influx of patients seeking care. If you recall, Texas recently enacted a roughly six-week ban on abortion. Some residents left the state to get abortions, especially in towns or cities near the state lines. During the final months of 2021, Planned Parenthood clinics in states near Texas experienced a near 800% increase in abortion patients from Texas, compared to the same period in the previous year. 

Banning Abortion Harms Women

A woman’s body is her choice, and what she chooses to do with it is her right. Overturning Roe v. Wade and limiting abortion access could lead to negative long-term health effects. One study found that denying women abortions harms them in several ways. Researches surveyed the participants in that study who gave birth. These women faced economic hardships that lasted several years, and they were more likely to raise a child alone. Additionally, these women had a higher risk of developing serious health conditions when compared to women who received abortions. 

Certain blue states have already taken steps to protect the right to abortion in state law. Other states are considering following suit. For example, California is currently reviewing ways to better support and cover costs for out-of-state residents who come to California to get an abortion. In Illinois, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region opened a clinic near the Illinois-Missouri border. The goal is to help Missouri-based patients who come to Illinois for an abortion. 

There are laws that protect reproductive rights, and Democratic representatives may continue to sign laws that protect these rights. The intention is to provide abortion services to people who live in states that restrict the procedure. 

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