Following the Supreme Court’s draft opinion leaked in May, indicating that the court would vote in favor of overthrowing Roe vs. Wade – the landmark decision of 1973 that legalized abortion at the national level – some wondered what exactly would change next and how it would affect access to abortion care across the country.
Yahoo Life contacted legal abortion experts to answer some of the most common questions people have about what abortion rights, access, and criminalization would look like in a post-abortionRoe vs. Wade world.
What exactly does it mean if Roe vs. Wade overturned?
If Roe vs. Wade “It means that 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 is allowed to set its own abortion policy, including banning all abortions in their state,” he says.
This means that “abortion may not be against the law everywhere and will vary from state to state, including when abortion is illegal and how it is required,” said Jenn Dye, director of Nathaniel R. Jones’ Theodore M. Berry Center. on race, gender and social justice at the University of Cincinnati Law College, he tells Yahoo Life.
The right to abortion has been protected for almost 50 years. Heather Shumaker, director of state access to abortion at the National Center for Women in Law, tells Yahoo Life that overturning this legal precedent will have a “catastrophic impact on the health and lives of women and all people who can become pregnant”.
Restricting or banning access to abortion “will force people to have unwanted pregnancies and give birth in a country with unprecedented maternal mortality and morbidity rates, especially among black women and women giving birth,” says Shumaker.
As Sally Frank, a law professor at Drake University, and many others have pointed out, “the fact is that you can ban abortions, but you will not stop abortions,” she told Yahoo Life. “Women will have an abortion when they have to have an abortion, and they have done so throughout US history. The question is, will it be safe? Or will they end up in an emergency due to a failed abortion? ”
Will abortion be illegal everywhere?
In short, no. However, if Roe vs. Wade “About half the country is expected to ban abortions,” says Donley. “Many states have positively passed laws that protect abortion access in their state, and other states will continue to allow it, but will strictly regulate it.”
If overturned, how soon would it be illegal to have an abortion in some states? Is it immediate?
If it is overturned, “it might be illegal to have an abortion right away, depending on the state in which you live,” says Dye. “Thirteen states have enacted activation bills that will take effect if / when the Supreme Court overturns the Roe that makes abortions illegal.”
Dye explains that 13 other states have “some other types of prohibitions that will severely limit the ability to have abortions,” adding, “Again, the details and mechanisms of these prohibitions vary from state to state, but they all have the same intent.” prohibition of abortions “.
Even in other states that are in favor of abortion reduction, “it will take legislative action to change the law,” says Frank, something that would happen in the coming months. Roe overturned. “If someone needs an abortion, they can call an abortion provider [near them] who will know what the laws are in this state “.
Can you be arrested for an abortion in a state where it is illegal?
It depends on the laws of each state. Most of the state abortion bans will come into force if Roe vs. Wade “You have an exception so that the pregnant woman can not be conceived because she had an abortion, but that can change,” warns Donley. “And people who help someone have an abortion may still be vulnerable under certain state laws.”
As Dye explains, in general, “the tendency is to criminalize those who have abortions or help those seeking abortions instead of criminalizing women seeking them.” This is because it is “much easier” to criminalize those who perform abortions. “It also fits the narrative of women who have somehow been ‘misinformed’ or ‘manipulated’ in some way to have an abortion, which feeds the narrative that women can not make clear and informed decisions about their bodies on their own.” says Dye.
However, Dye adds, “we have seen a worrying trend where some women are being prosecuted. “Again, this will vary depending on the state in which you live and the legislation in force there.”
Can a woman have an abortion in another state where she is legal without being prosecuted when she returns home?
From now on, it is legal for a woman to cross state borders to have an abortion. “However, whether state legislatures will pass laws to make it more difficult has not yet been seen and raises important questions about how to enforce those laws,” says Dye. “We saw this, for example, in the recent Texas SB8 abortion bill” – which bans abortions when an ultrasound can detect the fetal heartbeat at about six weeks’ gestation – “which allowed Texans to sue those helped others seek an abortion, even if it was outside 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, he says, “most have not committed a crime against the woman who had an abortion. “It has become a crime for providers,” he said, adding, “There are questions about whether they can prevent a woman from leaving the state for an abortion.”
However, Shumaker says she would be “surprised” if states and anti-abortion prosecutors did not “try to prosecute people for abortions outside the state.”
How could these laws be enforced?
Experts say it depends on how the state law is written. Some, such as the infamous Texas SB8 Act, “politically enforce and allow civil litigation – by almost anyone – against providers and others who help people have abortions,” says Shumaker. “Other laws criminalize abortion providers and threaten them with crimes.”
In addition, legal challenges to stop these laws “would probably be unsuccessful,” says Shumaker, “because the overthrow Roe It will require federal courts to effectively adjourn legislators who intend to restrict or prohibit abortions, which means that almost any abortion ban or restriction is likely to be complied with. “
Can women in states where abortion is banned or restricted order pills online for medical abortion?
Medical abortion – which involves taking two prescription drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, usually within a 48-hour period to end a pregnancy – is “safe and effective,” says Shumaker, and can be done safely at home. within the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy. But whether or not it would be legal to order drugs if Roe overturned would be determined by the condition in which the person lives.
“Therefore, if the state has done such a thing illegally, then ordering the pills even if it is from another country or another state – online, a telegram appointment with a doctor who allows abortion, etc. “It would make it illegal,” Dye points out. “However, because there is a lack of enforcement mechanisms, there are gray areas.”
At present, there are several organizations, such as AidAccess and Plan C, that “provide reliable information to help people find this safe and effective drug,” notes Donley.
How will women who want access to abortion be protected?
“Depending on where they live, they will not be protected,” says Donley.
However, Dye says there are some things people can do, including “donating to organizations that prioritize women’s access to health care and reproductive health.” Being a devoted citizen at local, state and national level for your regions, because many of them will depend on the law – they could codify the right to abortion or, alternatively, criminalize things. volunteer; and have difficult conversations and share your story if you feel comfortable with 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 states” for abortion care.
He points out that people who are financially disadvantaged are usually more affected by abortion bans, while those on higher incomes can usually afford to travel to another state or country where it is legal. “They are the people who do not have the means to do it,” says Frank. “These are the women who will try self-induced abortion or try to take medication as best they can. Some of them will die. “Some will be fine, but some of them will not.”
Do you want lifestyle and wellness news to be transmitted to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life Newsletter.