Why it Won’t Matter When the Supreme Court Revokes Roe v. Wade

Although law school has been keeping me busy, I took a break yesterday to volunteer at NARAL Pro-Choice California’s annual luncheon. This was my first pro-choice event since my move to California, and it reminded me why keeping in touch with the movement is so important.

One of the speakers, Slate Senior Editor Dahlia Lithwick, spoke about the Supreme Court. Lithwick knows the Court well, having covered that beat for thirteen years. The number one question readers ask: “When will the Supreme Court revoke Roe v. Wade, and how?”

Lithwick’s answer: “It doesn’t matter.” Why? Because the states are doing it already.

We know this from seeing legislation in Virginia, South Dakota, Mississippi, and other states–the gradual erosion of reproductive rights, one state at a time. New bills hit the news cycle on a weekly basis. Each time I see one of these stories, it horrifies me. Yet when I read news clips from distant states, I wonder what I can really do about them. How can I affect such a far-away place, and selfishly, do I really need to? After all, I never plan to live in Mississippi.

Obviously, the answer is yes. As Lithwick points out, none of these bills happen in a void. What one state does encourages others to follow–particularly, if no one is saying no to them. If this rollback of women’s rights continues, the Supreme Court may not need to overrule Roe. If you can’t find an abortion provider, it doesn’t matter if an abortion is technically legal. Do you trust your neighbors to protect your reproductive rights?

What can we do, from so far away? You already know that you should donate to a pro-choice organization working in those states. You can tell your friends and family members who do live locally to write their members of Congress. NARAL is also asking that you share your stories about reproductive rights. Speak with friends and family, and post on NARAL’s website. Just as the #ihadanabortion hash tag did, these conversations can destigmatize abortions and other reproductive health conversations. NARAL uses these stories to help persuade elected officials.

And of course, keep your eyes open for any federal movement on the issue. This week, the House of Representatives is looking at H.R. 358 — a bill that would permit federally funded hospitals to refuse abortion services to women, even if they will likely die without the procedure. It would also prevent federally funded health plans from covering abortion services. Read more information about the bill from the National Women’s Law Center here.

So, who wants to join me in writing our members of Congress?

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  • Great Blog, but you need to know that there is NO Mississippi branch of NARAL and there is no Planned Parenthood in Mississippi that provides abortion. There is only one clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. We are on the ground and we are fighting this “personhood” amendment.

  • Christina Black

    Hi Shelley, Thanks for letting us know this info. If people want to donate to your organization, is there a website or address they should use? Let us know!