In March, I wrote to you with a message that began, “it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” as we waited to hear about a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion care after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

This week, that time arrived— here’s the statement Christian issued Monday in response to the announcement that the Court would hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which began near my home here in Jackson, MS., and here’s the response from the clinic, staff and doctors in Jackson. 

The clock has now started on the most fundamental challenge to abortion rights in decades, one that could lead to the dismantling, if not the outright reversal, of Roe.  Oral arguments will take place during the Supreme Court’s fall term, with the ruling likely to be announced on the last day of the session.  

It’s worth remembering, as this moving first-person account of what it meant to seek abortion care in the days before Roe reminds us, that “there is not one single woman of childbearing age — not one — who remembers America before abortions were legal.”  When the author wrote this piece last October, she was fearful of what the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett would mean to abortion rights.  We’re about to find out. 

One of the central arguments will be about whether states can enact laws that place an “undue burden” or significant difficulty or expense on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion, as the Court prohibited in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling. The ruling declared that “if an undue burden exists, a provision of law is invalid if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” 

As this article from Scotusblog explains, Chief Justice John Roberts has signaled with his ruling last June, his readiness to weaken and/or reevaluate the Constitutional validity of this standard, which would “chip away at abortion rights.”  

That challenge is now before us—and NOW is ready. Our activist grassroots will be mobilizing in full force come fall 2022 for the Congressional elections, spotlighting the need to vote to save reproductive care.   

Guttmacher Institute reports that since January, there have been 536 abortion restrictions, including 146 abortion bans, introduced across 46 states.  If the Mississippi law is upheld, dozens of states have taken steps to pass “trigger laws” that will immediately outlaw abortion.  NOW will be working on the local grassroots and state level to block these unconstitutional measures that interfere with women’s bodily autonomy. 

We need to speak truthfully about abortion care and reproductive health, because it means more than just family planning. Access to safe and legal abortion and reproductive healthcare is a matter of human rights, including our rights to privacy and bodily autonomy.