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Two Years On: What Has the Overturning of Roe v. Wade Meant for Women in the United States?

How This Landmark Ruling Has Changed Lives in the US

By: Emily Reid

June 24th will mark the second anniversary since the court case Roe v. Wade was overturned. During this time, women in the United States have suffered at the hands of legislation that has changed reproductive healthcare in an unprecedented manner. The ruling overturned the ability to regulate abortion laws in each state, making the right to abortion no longer protected by the Constitution. Up until June 2022, the Roe v. Wade ruling, in most cases, guaranteed women the right to abortion up to 24 weeks. Now, the power rests with the states. Dissenting from this decision were the three outnumbered liberal Justices; who said that “young women today will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.”

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The United States has seen a disruption in standard pregnancy care, with the US maternal mortality rate also worsening. Many state bans leave patients and doctors facing legal uncertainty, all the while there has been an increase in patients crossing state lines to access reproductive healthcare. According to the Guttmacher Institute, interstate travel has doubled since 2020. Research also shows disproportionate impacts of abortion restrictions on Black and Brown communities, people with low incomes, immigrants and people with disabilities.

On April 9th 2024, the highest court in Arizona upheld a 160-year-old law that prohibits all abortion, except in circumstances where the person’s life is at risk, and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. “Physicians are now on notice that all abortions, except those necessary to save a woman’s life, are illegal,” said the Court in its 4-2 decision. Shortly after the decision was announced, Governor Katie Hobbs responded to the ruling by calling it a “dark day in Arizona.” President Joe Biden also released a statement calling the ban “cruel”, “extreme” and “dangerous”. The 1864 abortion ban was created before women had the right to vote and before Arizona was even a state, which raises questions over the constitutionality of the ruling. The law has a two-week stay while it is sent back to a lower court to hear additional arguments about its constitutionality.

Extensive research carried out in Louisiana by various organisations including the Centre for Reproductive Rights, found that Louisiana’s abortion bans “disregard evidence-based public health guidance and degrade long-standing medical ethical standards.” Women have been denied treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, and forced to wait until their lives are at risk. In one of the most extreme examples of how pregnancy care has changed, some women who experienced preterm ruptures of membranes early in pregnancy, before the foetus was viable, were forced to undergo Caesarean section surgeries to empty their uterus and avoid infection instead of receiving an abortion procedure or medication. “I want to emphasise that this is not what is in the best interest of the patient,” said a New Orleans OB-GYN anonymously “This is what is in the best interest of the physician in protecting themselves from criminal prosecution.”


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