Abortion expansion or ban? What 51 years of Roe v. Wade means now
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This week, in order to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the White House announced that it will be expanding access to contraception and taking steps to notify pregnant patients about their abortion options in the event of life-threatening crisis situations. The measures were just another indication that Vice President Joe Biden will prioritize reproductive rights as a central issue in his campaign for reelection.
Since it was overturned by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court in its bombshell verdict in 2022 in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the landmark case that occurred in 1973 has become even more politically potent.
As a result of the Dobbs ruling, fourteen states have totally prohibited abortion. These states include Alabama, Mississippi, and South Dakota. Additionally, a number of additional states in the southeast have implemented early-term prohibitions that range from six to eighteen weeks of pregnancy. Ohio, which passed in a referendum in November to incorporate the right to an abortion in the state constitution, is one of the other states that has taken steps to guarantee access to abortion.
In addition, the year 2024 is going to be filled with additional critical moments, as the issue of abortion will be on the ballot in places such as Maryland and New York, where voters will contemplate the possibility of amending state constitutions to enshrine reproductive rights. While everything is going on, the Supreme Court is likely to make a significant ruling about mifepristone, the drug that has been approved by the FDA and is responsible for more than half of all abortions that take place in the United States.
Making abortion ‘unthinkable’
In the midst of this intricate environment, those belonging to the anti-abortion and abortion rights camps have expressed to USA TODAY that they have a common objective of never going back to the Roe v. Wade decision, albeit for very different reasons.
According to Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, an annual gathering in Washington that attracted thousands of anti-abortion supporters last week, the anti-abortion side wants to completely and completely eliminate abortion to the point that it is “unthinkable.”
While the Dobbs decision is a significant triumph and a significant milestone in the process of constructing a culture of life, there is still a great deal of work to be done, according to Mancini.
Roe was inadequate, activists say
In the meantime, there are proponents of abortion rights who believe that the time has come to reconsider Roe v. Wade rather than to go back to the original decision. This means that abortion should be legalized on a national level and access should be protected, particularly for members of marginalized communities who had difficulty gaining access to abortion services even via the Roe v. Wade decision, according to Serra Sippel of The Brigid Alliance, an organization that provides assistance to patients who travel to seek abortion care.
According to Sippel, it is of the utmost importance that “we do not make the mistake of reinforcing what was there.” “That’s a decision that’s gone back 51 years.”
Supporters of abortion rights should consider Roe v. Wade to be “the floor, not the ceiling,” as Sippel put it. This means that the judgment is not only too susceptible to being reversed, but it also has a limited capacity to guarantee that all women have equal access to abortion services.
Compare and contrast this mood with the stance taken by Vice President Joe Biden, who, on Tuesday, at a campaign rally in Virginia, stood in front of a banner that read “Restore Roe.” He criticized his predecessor, Donald Trump, for destroying the protections that were previously provided by Roe v. Wade.
Joe Biden expands access to contraception
The event that Biden held followed closely on the heels of his announcement on Monday that the White House will be expanding coverage for contraception that is provided at no cost through the Affordable Care Act. Additional access to contraception will also be made available to federal employees in accordance with recommendations that have been released to insurers.
Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, the Department of Health and Human Services is now implementing a strategy to educate patients about the administration’s position that they are entitled to care for pregnancy-related emergencies, which may include abortion care in some circumstances.
Jessica Valenti, a feminist writer and the founder of “Abortion, Every Day,” a publication that monitors changes in abortion regulations at the national and state levels, stated the Democrats have been meeting with an increasing amount of success when it comes to discussing abortion rights. Last week, Valenti addressed the Democrats in the Senate at a briefing on abortion rights. After exiting the room, she expressed that she felt “hopeful” about the situation.
There is a need for Democrats to emerge from their defensive stance, according to Valenti. It is not possible to say, “We simply want things to return to the way they were.”
Trump dances around abortion
In a period of fewer than ten months, it will be determined whether or not conservatives will be able to secure a significant friend in the White House in their pursuit of the complete elimination of abortion.
While former President Donald Trump was responsible for the appointment of three of the five Supreme Court judges who overturned Roe v. Wade, the Republican front-runner has been fairly silent on the matter. He has provided answers that are ambiguous and vague regarding whether or not he would advocate for a national abortion ban if he were to win the election against Vice President Joe Biden in November.
“He is strategically and deliberately feigning moderation,” according to Valenti. He is hoping that those individuals who are appalled by the conclusion of the Roe v. Wade case would not associate him with that and believe that he will make things even more difficult. That just is not the case. Under a Trump presidency, the situation might become even more dire.
A 19th century obscenity law could target abortion pills
According to Valenti, if Trump were to return to the White House, he would have the ability to issue an order to the Department of Justice to employ the Comstock Act, which is an obscenity statute that dates back to the 1800s. This law would prohibit not just the shipment of abortion drugs, but also the shipment of medical equipment needed for abortion or even supplies for clinics. It has previously been decided by the administration of Vice President Joe Biden that distributing abortion drugs through the mail does not violate the act; however, with a new administration, the law could be interpreted otherwise.
“Politically it’s clear we need something more protective,” according to Valenti.
However, she also made the observation that many people in the United States may experience a sense of being trapped between strenuous advocates for unlimited access and others who are fighting toward complete abolition.
According to Valenti, it is essential for individuals who are in the middle to take into consideration the individuals in whom they have faith in order to make a significant choice regarding their lives. “At the core of the matter, do you believe that this is a decision that the government ought to be involved in or not?”