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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court issued a shameful ruling today overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago. Today’s decision will allow anti-abortion politicians in states across the country to ban abortion and force countless people to remain pregnant and have children against their will. The ruling in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will set off a chain reaction with states banning abortion and criminalizing essential care throughout entire regions of the country.
This decision is an unprecedented attack on women’s rights and reproductive freedom, and the effects will be immediate and far reaching. Half the states in the country are expected to ban abortion, denying the 36 million women and other people who can become pregnant in those states the fundamental right to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent.
Forcing women and other people to carry a pregnancy against their will has life-altering consequences, including enduring serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, derailing their education, career and life plans, and making it more difficult to leave an abusive partner. This decision could also lead to pregnancy losses being subject to suspicion, investigation, and arrest, and patients and doctors being thrown in jail.
Anti-abortion politicians will not stop with Roe’s reversal and enforcing criminal bans on abortion state by state; extremists have made clear that they will work to ban abortion nationwide.
In response to the ruling, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, issued the following statement:
“Second-class status for women has once again become the law because of today’s decision. We can wave away any pretense that this is the United States of America when it comes to the fundamental right to decide when and if to become a parent. Today’s decision will be remembered for the suffering it will impose on millions of people. The court’s ruling is a brazen assault on the fundamental rights of women — allowing politicians to ban abortion, criminalize people seeking medical care, and put doctors in jail for providing essential health care. Half the states are expected to ban abortion, forever changing the course of countless lives and condemning women and other pregnant people to a future they never envisioned or wanted for themselves.
“The Supreme Court has just plunged this country and itself into a historic crisis, one that will reverberate far beyond the ability to get an abortion. Forcing people to carry pregnancies against their will is just the beginning. The same politicians seeking to control the bodies of women and pregnant people will stop at nothing to challenge our right to use birth control, the right to marry whom you love, and even the right to vote. No right or liberty is secure in the face of a Supreme Court that would reverse Roe.
“The courts are allowing politicians to attack our fundamental rights but they don’t get the final say, we do. Banning abortion is deeply unpopular, and there will be no place for the politicians who passed these laws to hide from the consequences of their cruel attacks. We will hold them accountable in courthouses and statehouses, through protests in the streets, and at the ballot box. The road ahead is long, and the ACLU will be there every step of the way fighting for the power to decide for ourselves if and when to have a child. We fought for abortion rights before they were recognized by the court, and we are not deterred from this fight by today’s decision.”
Banning abortion will have an immediate and devastating impact on women, taking from them a right that has been central to their ability to plan their lives, families, and careers. The burdens will disproportionately fall on women of color, those struggling to make ends meet, young people, rural residents, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ communities. Today’s ruling will also have deadly consequences, with the harm falling hardest on Black women and other people of color who already face a severe maternal mortality crisis that is the worst in the same states that are determined to ban abortion. In fact, Black women are three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after. If abortion is banned nationwide, pregnancy-related deaths are estimated to increase by 21 percent nationwide, and 33 percent among Black women.
With thousands of staff and volunteers in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the ACLU has been preparing for this moment for years and will carry out a multi-pronged approach to stem the tide of attacks on abortion and expand access where possible. The ACLU has fought for abortion rights since before Roe was decided, and we’ll continue to work with local partners to challenge abortion bans where we can.
As the fight continues to play out in the courts, the ACLU will mobilize supporters across the country to take to the streets and head to the polls. Abortion is on the ballot this year with votes on state constitutional amendments in Kansas this August, and in Vermont and Kentucky this November. In Michigan, the ACLU is also working with partners to collect signatures to put an amendment on the ballot this fall that would enshrine the right to reproductive freedom, including abortion, in the state Constitution.
For more than a decade, the fight for abortion access has primarily been in the states, and the ACLU will also invest in state Supreme Court races to ensure that state judges increasingly uphold our fundamental right to reproductive freedom and other civil liberties.