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The decision last Friday by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to completely reverse the court’s 1973 decision known as Roe v. Wade has upended what had been considered a 49-year-old “settled law” and changed the future of this country. The result, say those attempting to sort out the situation is “pure chaos and fear.” The situation touches quite literally, every American, and especially women and girls, whose constitutional rights have been taken.

As pointed out by Ark Valley Voice last week, this is the first time in history that a Supreme Court has withdrawn a guaranteed Constitutional right. But stepping into the void created by the withdrawal of that Constitutional right to privacy has been a confusing and terrifying patchwork of state laws, state threats to prosecute women and those who aid them, to track their mobile phone data to identify women who they suspect of getting abortions, and to prevent women from crossing state lines to get reproductive services.

In light of that, the word chaos does not seem adequate to describe the confusion, fear, anger, and frustration of millions. They see this as a direct attack upon bodily integrity that is the hallmark of the pro-choice population. Those who believe in a woman’s reproductive rights represent more than 66 percent of the United States population. Young women of child-bearing age in particular are stunned.

Others who describe themselves as pro-life are celebrating the confusion, and are thrilled that SCOTUS described pregnancy as beginning at the moment of conception (and some are already setting their sights on other privacy topics related to procreation; specifically access to contraception.)

In at least two states, Utah and Florida, the state supreme courts have applied injunctions that at least temporarily prevent old state laws or trigger laws from taking effect. Others have followed suit, at least temporarily, including Kentucky, Texas and Louisiana.

Already 13 Republican-controlled states that either had set up new trigger laws to take effect as soon as Roe v. Wade was gone (Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming all have trigger laws) or had ancient (the 1800s) laws on the books that were never repealed when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. Proposed state constitutional amendments to take away abortion rights are on the ballot in Kansas this August, and in Kentucky this November.

Speakers address crowd at Alpine Park in Salida for a rally on June 26, 2022. Daniel Flanders photo.

Some anti-abortion laws took effect immediately, others in 30 days. In some states even with a waiting period, reproductive health care clinics shut down immediately, others proceeded cautiously. One clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo North Dakota is quite literally moving a mile across the Red River into Moorhead, Minnesota, where the state constitution protects abortion rights.

Other states such as Colorado, had already moved to protect the right to privacy, including abortion, within their state Constitutions (HB2022-1279 Reproductive Health Equity Act.)

Signed into law on April 4, 2022; “The bill declares that every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

The anti-abortion efforts are growing

  • State Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dist. 61) encourages crowd at Salida rally against Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2022. Daniel Flanders photo

    Teens are a target — the pro-life, anti-abortion centers are quite devious about finding pregnant teens online. These so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ have ramped up their activities, turning to social media, including Snap Maps, to lure young people to their “clinics” and direct teens not to go to any other health centers, saving their data, and terrifying teens. According to a report in Bloomberg News, “some of them have begun using these platforms to spread not merely marketing messages but also what physicians and other health care professionals say is harmful misinformation.”

  • A hospital in Missouri temporarily suspended its Plan B contraceptive bills from their employee health plans (note, the word contraception is in the name) because they worried that it would be perceived by law enforcement as an abortion pill. This is legal “creep”.
  • Meanwhile, at pharmacy companies, several drugs that work to treat serious illnesses are being withdrawn from the market for the child-bearing age group because they may carry a risk of miscarriage or abortion. One example:  Methotrexate, which has a small risk of causing spontaneous abortion, is being discontinued for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Lupus patients that are within child-bearing age. Women will no longer be allowed to decide their own risk or make their own decision whether to take it or not.
  • New “model legislation” proposed by anti-abortion activists—is attempting to reach within a state or across state lines to intimidate those service groups providing information regarding abortion access: including criminal penalties for anyone who “maintain[s]” a website that “encourages” an “illegal abortion.” This is a new kind of restraint on freedom of speech.
  • Couples attempting to conceive via IVF are now in turmoil, many afraid that with the new SCOTUS ruling that life begins at conception will bring the state and potential criminal charges into the very personal, and difficult IVF procedures, where multiple fertilized eggs can await use, and failure to implant is common. What would law enforcement require – that all of them be implanted? This is quite literally “The Handmaid’s Tale” come true.
Featured image: Marchers throng F Street headed towards Riverside Park for June 26, 2022 rally against Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Daniel Flanders photo.