A Critical Moment for Abortion Rights
It’s only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. The odds are good that it might involve a case that began near my home in Jackson, MS.
I started protesting in favor of abortion rights in the mid 1980s as a young lawyer in Keene, NH. I continued to be active in abortion rights work in New Jersey as an activist doing clinic defense and as the president of NOW-NJ. Later, I worked for Planned Parenthood doing policy and advocacy work on access to abortion and birth control.
Now, I live in Jackson, where I’ve been closely following the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a 15-week abortion ban passed by the Mississippi Legislature in 2018. The Jackson Women’s Health Clinic is painted pink and commonly referred to as the Pink House. The escorts call themselves the Pink House defenders. It is the last abortion clinic in Mississippi and would be in deep trouble if the law is upheld.
Opponents of abortion care have identified this case as one of their favorite choices to use as a vehicle for a Supreme Court challenge to Roe.
This week, the Supreme Court announced the first abortion case to be heard by its new 6-3 conservative majority—a procedural question about who has the power to take a challenge to state abortion restrictions to court. But this may be a warm-up for a no-holds barred challenge to every aspect of abortion rights. The Jackson case is surely waiting in the wings.
In the first two months of the year, according to Guttmacher, eight abortion restrictions were enacted, including a near-total ban on abortion signed into law in Arkansas, and a 6-week ban in South Carolina. An astounding surge in new bills is already breaking records—Guttmacher cites 384 anti-abortion provisions introduced in 43 states through February. These include 107 abortion bans designed as direct challenges to Roe, including 19 total bans in 13 states.
As NOW members, we have work to do to protect our reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. This past year and during the challenges of the pandemic women’s access to medication abortion continues to be a problem. According to Planned Parenthood, in 2021, as compared to the same time in 2019, medication abortion restriction and bans have tripled, anti-abortion constitutional amendments have more than tripled, and 12 abortion restrictions have been enacted this year, compared with only one by this time in 2019.
We are prepared for the coming fights to stop politicians from taking away our ability to control our own bodies. We must stand up for our rights and be relentless in defending them. NOW members like you remain our strongest asset in the coming Supreme Court challenges to abortion rights.