The Supreme Court’s decision is absurd: American women are increasingly resorting to abortion

The Supreme Court's decision is absurd: American women are increasingly resorting to abortion

Abortion is no longer a constitutional right in the United States. The Supreme Court, on Friday, June 24, delivered its judgment on the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationwhich reconsiders the decision of Roe v. wade of 1973. In 13 states that had passed laws envisioning a scenario like this, abortion is now illegal or will be in the coming days. In all, 26 states could ban or severely limit access to abortion in the coming weeks. And this when American women need access to it more than ever.

Investigation published Thursday, June 16 by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that studies the consequences of reproductive rights policies, has indeed revealed that, for the first time in thirty years, the number of abortions in the United States has increased, from 862,000 in 2017 to 930,000 in 2020, which represents an increase of 8%. The report estimates that in 2020 around 20% of pregnancies ended in abortion. Specifically, the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies) increased from 18.4% in 2017 to 20.6% in 2020, an increase of 12%.

According to Elizabeth Nash, senior policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, there are multiple explanations for this rise. First of all, “some states had extended access to abortion”allowing more women wishing to use it to do so. Illinois for example, where the number of abortions jumped 25% in three years, had passed two laws requiring insurance to cover abortion. This medical act paying in the United States, has therefore become more accessible to part of the population. Furthermore, under the Trump administration, measures had complicated access to contraceptivesthus increasing the risk of pregnancy.

Fewer contraceptives lead to more abortions

In 2019, the US government had already banned member organizations of Title X, the only federally funded family planning program, to provide any information to their patients about abortion. Outraged by this “law of silence”, many of the organizations associated with the program then left it, thus reducing access to contraceptives for the poorest people. As Elizabeth Nash explains, “Without these services, we can expect to see an increase in abortions. People have never stopped having sex just because they ran out of sex. contraceptives.”

Other factors, including the country’s political and economic situation, came into play. “In the current period of inflationall prices increasedetails Elizabeth Nash. People are still concerned about the pandemic. I also think that the new generations, like millennials or Generation Z, do not yet want to have children. They have other things to think about, like their university debts.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the increase in abortions has been accompanied by a general decrease in the number of pregnancies, a phenomenon already observed during periods of uncertainty, particularly during the recession of the late 2000s.

Politics disconnected from reality

According to the study published in mid-June, most of the women who had abortions between 2017 and 2020 are in their twenties and are mainly women of color, especially black and Latina, coming from working classes – it is estimated that 75% of women choosing abortion are poor.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, 60% of them already had at least one child, which proves, as Elizabeth Nash explains, that “These women, these families, know very well what it is to have a child. Above all, they want to be able to take care of it. And at this point in their lives, they don’t think they can afford to raise another one.”

Although our meeting with Elizabeth Nash took place the day before the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, she had no illusions about the future of abortion in the United States. The judgment in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down the right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, had been leaking for weeks.

For the senior policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, members of the Republican Party and the conservative judges of the Supreme Court are completely disconnected from the reality of Americans and, above all, American women. The study’s numbers indeed offer a shocking contrast to what is unfolding right now in Washington and Republican state capitals. “What we are seeing in political spheres right now is the exact opposite of what people wantsays Elizabeth Nash. It is quite disturbing to see states that want to ban abortion, when you know how much people need it.

Poor women will only have two (bad) choices

But how will the curve change, now that half the states are likely to ban abortion? For Elizabeth Nash, it’s hard to predict: “Some states will protect access to abortion. Some are even considering spending more, opening more clinics, to make abortion more accessible. But also in the hope that they can accommodate patients who come from a state where abortion is prohibited. The specialist doubts that this is sufficient to cover the needs.

Indeed, the majority of American women who resort to abortion are poor. It is therefore unlikely that they can afford to travel to another state, to pay for gas or a plane ticket, the hotel, and not to work for several days, in order to be able to have an abortion. Especially since, in certain areas of the United States, especially the South, it will be quite possible that the nearest clinic performing abortions is located several hundred, if not thousands of kilometers away.

Many women and families in great financial difficulty will then have only two choices: to have a child they cannot afford to take care of, or to turn to clandestine or home abortion, which is much more dangerous than an abortion performed in a clinic or hospital.

Regain your rights

In the long term, the decision to restrict access to abortion will be devastating for women, but also for the children they will have. According to a study by the University of San Francisco, children born after a refused abortion often live below the poverty line. These are tens or even hundreds of thousands of children who could be condemned to poverty, in a country where social assistance is extremely limited.

Faced with this, the only solution envisaged by Elizabeth Nash is to not give up and try to regain the right to abortion, no longer through the federal state or the Supreme Court, but state by state. The specialist thinks that “In two, five or even ten years, the inhabitants of the States where abortion will have been prohibited will see the consequences of this prohibition. And so that from there, with a collective effort, we can, little by little, recover the right to abortion. A fight that promises to be long and complicated.

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