Jan. 23, 2017 – Over 37 million women in 33 states are at-risk of living in a state where abortion could become illegal if the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v Wade were overturned—according to an updated report issued today by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The report—What if Roe Fell?—provides a powerful state-by-state overview of what would happen to abortion rights if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling from 1973 which established access to abortion as a constitutional right. The report warns that 22 states—nearly all of which are situated in the central and southern part of the country—could immediately ban abortion outright, whereas women in an additional 11 states (plus the District of Columbia) at risk of losing their right to abortion. In the remaining 17 states—which are primarily situated on the coasts of the country—a woman’s right to abortion is secure based on current state law.
“Our new report What if Roe Fell? illustrates the very real harms millions of women across the country will face if Roe is overturned,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“We cannot go back to the days before Roe, when some women put their lives on the line when they needed to end a pregnancy. Forcing women to travel thousands of miles across state lines for basic health care in 2017 is not only unconstitutional, it’s unconscionable.
“The promise of our Constitution is one of equal rights and protections for all, not just for those who live in certain states. For over 40 years, the nation’s highest court has held that a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion is protected by the Constitution.
“The Center for Reproductive Rights has defended the constitutional rights of all women for over 25 years and will continue to do so in the battles to come.”
What if Roe Fell? features an interactive map where individuals can compare women’s risk of losing the right to abortion in their state with other states and also find detailed information on state laws that affected the analysis–such as the existence of pre-Roe abortion bans or trigger laws that would spring into effect soon after Roe is overturned. Individuals can also view maps showing which states have state constitutional protections independent of the U.S. constitution and which have state laws protecting a woman’s right to abortion—making the right to abortion in those states secure.
The report—which was last updated by the Center in 2007–not only comes on the heels of the 44th anniversary of the landmark Roe decision, but also days after the historic Women’s March on Washington and inauguration of President Trump. In addition to alarming remarks regarding making abortion illegal and “punishment” for women who have had abortions, President Trump has repeatedly stated he would nominate justices hostile to abortion rights to the Supreme Court—a particularly disturbing promise since he could announce his nominee to replace Justice Scalia at any time.
The importance of judicial appointments and Supreme Court precedent was recently illustrated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—the most significant abortion-related ruling from the Court in more than two decades. Whole Woman’s Health—which was the result of a legal challenge to two Texas laws brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights–reaffirmed the core principle of Roe and a woman’s constitutional right to access abortion.
When abortion is put out of reach, some women will find safe methods to end a pregnancy and others will resort to methods that are dangerous, ineffective, or life-threatening. Many women shared their stories of ending their pregnancies before Roe in amicus briefs submitted last year supporting the Center’s challenge to Texas’ unconstitutional abortion restrictions in the Whole Woman’s Health case.
The maps featured in the report are available for download here.