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Breaking Down the Battle Over Roe v. Wade — What Does it All Mean?

All people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) are in a monumental battle for control over their reproductive health. Boston Women’s Fund is working toward a world where power, opportunity, and access exist for all, regardless of gender identity or gender expression. The leaked Supreme Court opinion signaling that access to abortion is in jeopardy is a drastic and dangerous leap away from liberation. This is the first in a new series of blogs on reproductive justice. Here’s a quick recap of what we know and how you can join the movement.

The Supreme Court is Considering Overturning Roe. v. Wade

On May 2nd, a Supreme Court draft opinion document was leaked that revealed the court is considering overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court case that protected abortion as a federal, constitutional right, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. While this is a draft, the court is expected to share its final opinion in June. If their final decision mirrors the draft, access to abortion — and potentially several other rights — would be left for each state to decide, impacting some people almost immediately.

What Will Happen Across the Country?

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will be banned in nearly half of the states. Thirteen states have trigger laws that will automatically go into effect (either immediately or soon after) banning or restricting abortion. This includes states like Texas, which already has a law in place that bans abortion after 6 weeks, often before many people know they are pregnant. This law is especially disturbing as it allows citizens to sue those who “aid or abet” an illegal abortion, with the promise of $10,000 from the sued party if they win the lawsuit.

This has led to clinics turning people away and multiplied the number of Texans traveling to other states to get care. Lawmakers in neighboring Oklahoma recently passed a bill that if signed would enact the strictest anti-abortion measure in the country — banning all abortions after fertilization.

What About in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is protected, for now, thanks to a 2020 state law called the ROE act. However, there’s information that suggests anti-abortion advocates’ long-term goal is to create a national abortion ban, which could impact everyone.

This is only further evidence of our belief that our liberation is bound together — oppression that impacts folks in other parts of the country is just as much our problem to combat.

This Will Impact Our Most Vulnerable Populations Birthing people who already experience unequal access to quality health care, including people of color, low-income earners, people with disabilities, rural communities, and the LGBTQIA+ community will be disproportionately impacted. We can imagine that the intersections among those identities will multiply what some will endure. According to a 2019 stat by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 28% of lesbian and bisexual women and 29% of gender-expansive people are living in poverty. Those who do not have the means to travel to receive the care they need will be forced down a path they did not choose.

Make no mistake, this is an economic, social, racial, and gender issue, and it’s not just about reproductive rights.

What Else is at Stake?

Roe. v. Wade relies on a right to privacy based on the 14th amendment. However, if Roe is overturned, this could open the door for other rights that are based on the 14th amendment, like marriage equality, interracial marriage, access to birth control and LGBTQIA+ rights, including gender-affirming care for trans youth, to be taken away.

How You Can Get Involved

Now is the time to support grassroots organizing and movement building efforts that are working to advance reproductive justice and rights for all birthing people. Support the Boston Women’s Fund, which works closely with organizations on the ground that have been active in this fight for years. We believe that those closest to issues of injustice are best positioned to develop solutions for lasting change, and we are committed to partnering with and sustaining such organizations.

For A Deeper Dive, Here Are Three Resources We Found Helpful:

  1. "What to Know About the Leaked Supreme Court Opinion," ACLU

  2. What if Roe Fell?” Center for Reproductive Rights

  3. Reproductive Justice, Not Just Rights,” Dissent Magazine


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