After the Supreme Court’s draft opinion was leaked in May, which indicated the court would vote to undo it Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide — some have wondered what exactly would change in the aftermath and how this would affect access to abortion care nationwide.
Yahoo Life reached out to abortion legal experts to answer some of the most common questions people have about what abortion rights, access, and criminalization would look like in a post-Roe v. Wade world.
What exactly does it mean if? Roe v. Wade is tipped over?
if Roe v. Wade being destroyed, “it means there is no longer a federal constitutional right to abortion,” Greer Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, told Yahoo Life. Instead, “each state gets to set its own abortion policy, including banning all abortions in their state,” she says.
This means that “abortion may not be against the law everywhere and it will vary from state to state, including when abortion is illegal and how it is enforced,” Jenn Dye, Theodore M. Berry director of the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, tells Yahoo Life.
The right to abortion has been protected for almost 50 years. Heather Shumaker, director of state abortion access at the National Women’s Law Center, tells Yahoo Life that undoing that legal precedent will “have a devastating impact on the health and lives of women and all people of childbearing potential.”
Restricting or banning access to abortion “will force people to carry unwanted pregnancies and give birth in a country with unprecedented maternal mortality and morbidity, especially among black women and people in labor,” Shumaker said.
As Sally Frank, a law professor at Drake University, and many others have noted, “the fact is, you can ban abortion, but you won’t stop abortion,” she tells Yahoo Life. “Women will have an abortion if they need an abortion, and they have done so throughout the history of the United States. The question is, will it be safe? Or do they end up in the emergency room because of failed abortions?”
Will abortion be against the law everywhere?
In a nutshell, no. However, if Roe vs. wade destroyed, “about half the country is expected to ban abortion,” Donley says. “Many states have affirmatively passed laws protecting access to abortion in their states, and others will continue to allow it, but tightly regulate it.”
If destroyed, how soon would it be illegal to have an abortion in certain states? Is it immediate?
If destroyed, “depending on the state you live in, it may be illegal to have an immediate abortion,” Dye says. “Thirteen states have bills that will go into effect if/when the Supreme Court overthrows Roe, making abortions illegal.”
Dye explains that an additional 13 states have “a number of other types of bans that will severely limit the ability to have abortions,” adding, “Again, the details and mechanisms of these bans vary by state, but all have the same intent to ban abortion.”
Still in other states that are in favor of restricting abortion, “it will take legislative action to change the law,” Frank says, which would happen in the next few months. roe is overthrown. “If someone needs an abortion, they can call an abortion provider [near them] who will know what the laws are in that state.”
Can you be arrested for having an abortion in a state where it is illegal?
It depends on the laws of the individual state. Most state abortion bans that go into effect if: Roe v. Wade “have an exception so that the pregnant person can’t be arrested for getting an abortion, but that can change,” Donley warns. “And the people who help someone have an abortion may still be vulnerable under some state laws.”
In general, as Dye explains, “the trend is to criminalize those who give abortions or help those who want to help abortions rather than criminalize the women who strive for them”. That’s because it’s “a lot easier” to criminalize those who perform the abortions. “It also fits the narrative of women who have been somehow ‘misinformed’ or ‘manipulated’ into having an abortion, adding to the narrative that women themselves do not make clear and informed decisions about their bodies,” says Dye.
But, adds Dye, “we’ve seen a disturbing trend where some women are being prosecuted. Again, this depends on the state you live in and the law in place there.”
Can a woman have an abortion in another state where it is legal without being prosecuted when she returns home?
As of now, it is legal for a woman to cross state lines to have an abortion. “However, whether state lawmakers would pass laws to make that more difficult remains to be seen and raises important questions about how those laws would be enforced,” Dye says. “We saw this, for example, in Texas’s recent SB8 abortion law” — which bans abortions once an ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat around six weeks of pregnancy — “allowing Texans to sue those who helped others seek an abortion, even if it was outside of the state of Texas.”
Frank says there are some states that are considering passing laws that would apply to travel to other states for abortion care. But, she says, “most have not made it a crime for the woman who had the abortion. They have made it a crime for health care providers,” adding: “There are questions about whether they can ban a woman from the state. to have an abortion.”
However, Shumaker says she would be “surprised” if anti-abortion states and prosecutors don’t “try to prosecute people for abortions they’ve had out of state.”
How can these laws be enforced?
Experts say it depends on how the state law is written. Some, like the “infamous” Texas SB8 law, “are civilly enforced and allow civil lawsuits — by just about anyone — against providers and others helping people get abortions,” Shumaker says. “Other laws criminalize abortion providers and threaten them with felony crimes.”
In addition, lawsuits to stop these laws would “probably not be successful,” Shumaker says, “because overturning roe will require federal courts to essentially grant reprieve to lawmakers who intend to restrict or ban abortion, meaning nearly any abortion ban or restriction is likely to be enforced.”
Can women in states where abortion is banned or restricted order pills online for a drug abortion?
Medication abortion — taking two prescription drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, usually within a 48-hour period of ending a pregnancy — is “safe and effective,” Shumaker says, and can be done safely at home within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. pregnancy. But whether it would be legal to order the drugs as? roe is destroyed is determined by the state in which the person lives.
“So, if the state made this illegal, it would make it illegal to order the pills, even if it’s from another country or state — online, a telehealth appointment with a doctor who allows abortion, etc. — Dye emphasizes. “But because there is a lack of enforcement mechanisms, there are gray areas.”
Currently, there are several organizations, such as AidAccess and Plan C, that provide “reliable information to help people find this safe and effective medication,” notes Donley.
How will women who want access to abortion be protected?
“Depending on where they live, they aren’t protected,” Donley says.
However, Dye says there are a number of things people can do, including “donate to organizations that prioritize women’s access to health care and reproductive health care; being a committed citizen at the local, state and national level for your districts because so much of this will come down to legislation – they could codify the right to abortion, or alternatively criminalize things; volunteer; and having difficult conversations and sharing your story when you feel comfortable in your social circles.”
Frank agrees, suggesting that for anyone who can, “they should donate to local providers and services that help women who have to leave their state” for abortion care.
She points out that people who are economically disadvantaged tend to be hardest hit by abortion bans, while those with higher incomes can usually afford to travel to another state or country where it is legal. ‘It’s the people who don’t have the resources for it,’ says Frank. “Those are the women who will try self-induced abortion or try to get drugs however they can. Some of them will die. Some will be okay, some won’t.”
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