A Narrow Win for Abortion Access
In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a law that would have left all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana closed, diminishing access for most of the 10,000 women a year who seek abortion care in the state. Even more devastating, it’s likely that 15 other states would have enacted similar restrictions, making access to abortion care nearly impossible for millions of women.
The burden of the Louisiana law would have fallen heavily on women of color, women living in rural areas, and women with limited economic means. Access to abortion care would have become an impossible obstacle to overcome for those who often face additional barriers when seeking health care. Black women’s health is already disproportionately harmed by systemic racism and the law would have placed another barrier between Black and brown women and their basic reproductive well-being. In Louisiana, for example, Black women are four times more likely to have a pregnancy related death than white women.
Although there is reason to feel relief, we cannot ignore the many other attacks on access to abortion care currently being fought in the courts. This decision, while a welcome one, is not victory. It beckons our collective attention to a stark reality. Women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care is still fragile and unequitable. That’s the reality of a 5 to 4 decision.
To that end, we will continue our efforts to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prohibit states from passing medically unnecessary regulations that single out abortion providers. And we will continue to work to dismantle the barriers that disproportionately harm the reproductive well-being of women of color. Such actions will help more people have the power to decide, if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.