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Roe, One Year Later: 5 Ways the Movement to Protect Reproductive Rights Continues

It’s been a year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, striking down the federal right to an abortion, and the fallout from that awful and massively unpopular ruling has been even worse than feared. 

Which is exactly why it’s more important than ever that we, the majority of Americans who believe that abortion should be legal, stand up and fight back. 

The battleground has shifted, so our approach to this fight has to evolve. Here are five things we can do right now to protect reproductive rights. 

  1. Fight State-Level Abortion Bans

    Many states have passed legislation that bans abortions after a certain number of weeks. Florida’s six-week abortion ban is particularly cruel and absurd, as many people don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks. (South Carolina passed a six-week ban too, but it’s been temporarily blocked.) Some states, like Ohio, are also trying to make it harder for voters to enshrine abortion protections in their state constitution.

    As of mid-June, 14 states have banned all abortions. 44 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy.

    • 1 state bans abortion at 6 weeks

    • 4 states ban abortion at 15-20 weeks

    • 7 states ban abortion at 22 weeks 

    • 4 states ban abortion at 24 weeks

    These bans are being challenged in court. In Texas, five women whose pregnancies pose a grave risk to their lives are suing the state after being denied access to abortion. For some women, abortion bans may be a death sentence. Contact your local representatives, your state representatives, your mayor, your governor: Contact everyone—tell your friends and family to do the same—and let them know how you feel. 

  2. Keep Abortion Pills Legal

    There’s a growing effort to ban abortion pills—even in states where abortion is legal and protections are in place. That movement gained traction when a judge in Texas banned mifepristone (one of the drugs used in abortion pills) in April. 

    That ruling horrified supporters of reproductive rights, but many experts have said that if it’s allowed to stand, it could also undermine the Food and Drug Administration’s power to evaluate and approve ALL medications.  

    It came as a relief when the Supreme Court put a temporary hold on that decision, restoring access to abortion pills for now. But if we don’t take immediate action, there’s a good chance this very conservative Supreme Court may ultimately allow the ban to go back into effect. 

  3. Protect Doctors

    Republican politicians from the local to federal level have been emboldened by the Dobbs decision to limit access to abortions by pretty much any means they can imagine.  

    That explains the big laws and bans we just mentioned. But it also explains less headline-grabbing maneuvers like passing laws that ban doctors without admitting privileges from performing abortions outside a hospital setting, like a clinic. (What are admitting privileges? They’re formal agreements between a physician and a hospital allowing that physician to provide healthcare services to their patients.)

    If that sounds dangerous and unfair, then get ready for this. Some states have gone well beyond making it more difficult for doctors to provide care—they’ve actually passed legislation that allows for any doctor who performs an abortion to be penalized with fines or even prison.

  4. Stop the Criminalization of People Seeking an Abortion

    Many states that have banned abortion have also passed laws that criminalize state residents (and in some cases, those helping them) who seek abortions in states where it’s legal. Some Republican politicians are even proposing that women who have an abortion should receive the death penalty!

    At the same time, many states that have enacted or strengthened abortion protections have also passed laws that shield their residents from lawsuits or investigations stemming from those laws being passed in anti-abortion states. 

    If you live in a state that’s criminalizing its own residents merely for seeking reproductive healthcare, then stand up for your family, friends, and neighbors and tell them it’s wrong. If your local leaders, on the other hand, are working to protect residents from unjust lawsuits related to providing abortion care, show them your support. 

    We have to speak up now, because the constitutionality of all of these laws will probably be determined by the same Supreme Court that overturned Roe. 

  5. Defend the Right to Contraception

    The Dobbs decision left little doubt that striking down the federal right to an abortion was only the beginning of a wholesale attack on our most cherished rights

    Roe had been in place for 50 years. It was settled, it was established law. It had become part of our identity as a pro-choice society. If, at one point not too long ago, Roe being overturned felt unthinkable, which other rights might be at risk right now?

    Here’s an example that might jolt you into action: Even though more than 90% of Americans are in favor of contraception, there are efforts underway at the state level to limit access to it, especially Plan B (the “morning after” pill, which is different than the abortion pill in that it prevents pregnancy from happening in the first place). If you don’t think some Republican politicians are eager to take away contraception, then you haven’t been paying attention! Make sure they hear you loud and clear: Don’t even think about touching birth control!

This Has Become a State-By-State Battle

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has been catastrophic. We’re seeing the impact on individuals and families every day. 

Abortions have dropped by 6% overall—meaning that many thousands of women are being forced to remain pregnant against their will.

Reproductive rights are under attack. Contraception is at risk. Our right to privacy is being threatened. But we can help ourselves and each other by monitoring what’s happening where we live—and making our voices heard!