What survivors face in an America without Roe v. Wade.
This past Monday, Politico shared a leaked 98-page document from the US Supreme Court. Sounding alarm bells to the world that Roe v. Wade and Americans’ access to abortion hang in the balance. Again.
Dizzying amounts of information have followed. Sparking whirlwinds of feelings and questions like, What on earth is going on? What does this mean for survivors? And, most importantly, What avenues are left for us to maintain the autonomy that we deserve to have over our own bodies?
Here are 10 key Qs&As to help you make heads or tails of what this situation means to you as we wait for answers.
What exactly is Roe v. Wade?
Jane Roe v. Henry Wade is a landmark Supreme Court case from 1973. In it, the Court ruled that women nationwide should be able to decide if they want an abortion, and that the government should protect this right by preventing states from having total abortion bans.
What is the leaked document?
The document is not a final decision. It is a draft opinion piece that tells us the Supreme Court has been reconsidering whether government should protect countrywide abortion access.
What does the document say about Roe and abortion?
It tells us that the Supreme Court is likely to vote to overturn Roe because they believe states should go back to setting their own individual rules on abortion access.
Is abortion still legal in the US today?
Yes! As of today, states are still governmentally prevented from banning abortion outright. But ease of access to abortions varies from state to state.
When will the Court make a decision?
Democratic Majority Leader of the US Senate, Chuck Schumer announced that on Monday, 9th May he will file for the Supreme Court to vote on Roe’s future this coming Wednesday, 11th May.
What will change if Roe is overturned?
Without Roe, states will be left to individually decide whether to make abortion fully accessible and legal, unavailable and criminal, or something in between.
Roughly 26 states have signalled they’ll ban or severely restrict access. While 15 states have already protected abortion care in their laws or constitutions, and are preparing for patients seeking care from states with bans in place.
Who will be affected if Roe is overturned?
Anyone who is currently pregnant, or can get pregnant. As well as their families and communities.
It affects people who want to carry their pregnancies to term, but experience medical complications that put their quality of life, their actual lives or their foetuses’ lives in danger.
It affects people who, for a sea of varied and valid reasons, don’t want to complete a pregnancy.
And there are additional negative mental, physical, financial and social effects on people who are marginalised or vulnerable. Particularly people with low incomes who cannot afford the fees or travels that come with out-of-state care, and women of color, who experience higher rates of medical neglect and death in childbirth. The impacts are also compounded for minors, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities and survivors of domestic or sexual violence.
How will survivors be affected if Roe is overturned?
Almost 3 million women in the US have experienced rape-related pregnancy at some point in their lives. And about 34% of recorded domestic violence survivors report that their abusers tried to control their reproductive decisions.
Roe’s end would seriously alter what sort of medical and legal support survivors can receive. It would expose pregnant survivors to reliving the traumas of not being able to make decisions about their own bodies. And it runs the risk of locking them in lifelong legal bonds with their attackers.
Monica Faulkner, director of Texas’ Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing points out that the, “impact of finally coming forward and then being told there are no options for you is devastating.”
Piper Stege Nelson, chief public officer at SAFE Alliance Austin adds that, “it’s further taking control and power away from the survivor right at the moment when they need that power and control over their lives to begin healing.”
Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 975 perpetrators walk free. If such attackers decide to use their legal freedom to claim parental rights – then they can. Meaning most pregnant survivors would face being forced to co-parent with their attackers.
These risks will be a certain reality in states with total bans, where there would be no exceptions even in cases of rape or incest. And these risks are likely even in states with partial bans where exceptions usually require a survivor to file a report with local law enforcement – a serious barrier for survivors who want support without inviting police into their personal lives.
So while the vote has not taken place yet, a lot is at stake for survivors and advocates against sexual violence.
Who actually wants all this to happen?
Most Americans support abortion access and understand the implications of harsh bans. About 32% think abortions should be totally legal, and 48% think they should be legal in specific cases. While only 19% believe it should be totally illegal.
Reconsideration of Roe reflects the views of conservative lawmakers, who hold a 6:3 majority in the Supreme Court.
What options are left for people seeking abortions in the US to decide what happens with their own bodies?
Options vary a lot from state to state. So advocates are putting together resources that make it as easy, confidential and low-risk as possible to find out what to expect in your area. Including:
AbortionFinder.org for resources in your area
The United State of Women’s Abortion Access Resource Hub for resources in your area
M+A Hotline for support with self-managed micarriage or abortion
The Repro Legal Helpline for legal advice on self-managed abortion
The Repro Legal Defense Fund for people criminalized for self-managed care
Judicial Bypass Wiki for minors seeking confidential support
INeedAnA.com for personalized information on getting abortions
Practical Support Organizations for support with travel and logistics for abortion
Ways to stay updated or get involved in defending abortion access
Or offer support to organisations doing critical reproductive choice work, like Planned Parenthood or Sister Song, And you can find abortion funds to donate to in your area with the USOW’s Abortion Access Resource Hub.