Saturday marks one year since the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, overturning Roe v. Wade and stripping away almost 50 years of precedent protecting the right to abortion. Without federal constitutional protection, Dobbs allows the states to determine the legality of abortion.
The Dobbs decision has divided the country just about in half–abortion is now unavailable or severely restricted in 22 states; clinics have closed or moved; complicated legal questions in many states sow confusion and fear. Pregnant people have been forced to wait longer, travel farther, and pay more for abortion care. This has increased the cost of abortion care, putting greater strain on abortion funds.
As we’ve seen at the Jane Fund, the change has been swift and momentous. We are experiencing a huge uptick in requests for assistance from people in other states. We pledged $40,787 on behalf of callers in Massachusetts and beyond in 2019, and by comparison, we have pledged $186,129 so far this year, with the majority of that going to people in other states with laws hostile to abortion. (And that’s while continuing to fully fund callers seeking services in Central Massachusetts.)
Donations have been generous–and we are very grateful–but the unmet need remains vast.
While the President says that “the Dobbs decision ‘put the health and lives of women across this nation at risk,’” we know that that risk is not carried equally or limited to women; Dobbs has exacerbated inequities in the healthcare system for marginalized groups, including those facing systemic racism and oppression, those dealing with economic hardship, young people, and queer and trans people. Tellingly, states restricting abortion have offered no corresponding expansion of protections for pregnant people, families, and children.
While Dobbs purports to return regulation of abortion access to the states, it is abundantly clear that anti-abortion advocates will stop at nothing short of a national ban on the procedure. As the Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, “Even as we celebrate, we are reminded that this is not the end, but the beginning of a critical new phase in our efforts….” The past year has brought assaults on abortion rights even in states where abortion remains legal, including a lawsuit attempting to block the use of medication abortion nationwide and state legislation blocking interstate travel.
Frighteningly, attempts to restrict abortion access have also included anti-democratic moves to hamstring local prosecutors, preempt local governments, and tighten the rules allowing for ballot measures. Yet a recent Gallup poll shows a marked increase in popular support for abortion rights, with 61% of respondents saying Dobbs was a “bad thing”.
Twenty states have moved to protect abortion rights. Massachusetts has enacted new measures to increase access to abortion care within the state and, for the first time, provided state money to the abortion funds. Although that funding only covers abortions that take place in Massachusetts, we are committed to extending solidarity to people and abortion funds across the country. On this anniversary, we ask that you, a supporter of abortion access and reproductive freedom, help us keep up the fight. The crisis is still unfolding. We need ardent advocates to continue busting stigma and raising awareness by unabashedly supporting abortion funds.