Even before the draft of the Roe v. Wade opinion was leaked in May, many of us believed it was more than possible that the Supreme Court would rule the way it did on June 24, 2022. After the leak, it seemed all but certain that the final opinion would not substantially differ from what was set forth in the May draft. However, when the final decision of the court was released, overturning Roe v. Wade as well as the 1992 Casey decision, the reality of it sank in.
It's important to note that many pregnant people with financial challenges, especially people of color, have long been living without adequate comprehensive health care. Their access to abortion, prenatal and other health care has been limited by restrictive laws, lack of health insurance, few health care providers (especially in rural areas), inadequate public transportation, and other problems.
What Does the Reversal of Roe v. Wade Mean for Women and Their Families?
Unfortunately, it raises even more questions than answers such as:
Which of the states, if any, of those who have banned or severely restrict access to abortion have laws to mandate paid sick time or paid parental leave? Which of those states have laws mandating that employers allow flexibility for parenting employees? Which of those states have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? What are the guidelines in those states under which parents can qualify for subsidized child care, and do those guidelines enable most parents who need the help to qualify?
Of course, those and other issues also affect people who want to carry their pregnancies to term. But what about those who sought, but were unable to secure, abortions? Will the reversal of Roe v. Wade mean that some women opt for unsafe abortions? What if they are forced to continue the pregnancy and have to take unpaid time off to deal with complications all the while knowing that they had wanted to terminate the pregnancy to begin with? What if they might need to quit their jobs to deal with such complications?
In her opinion essay in The New York Times, titled, What the Reversal of Roe Means for Women’s Work,Tressie McMillan Cottom suggests that the reversal might negatively impact a potentially pregnant person’s decision on whether to move to another state for a job, if such a state does not afford the same rights as the one in which the person currently lives.
There are likely many other ways that the elimination of a national right to abortion might adversely affect the lives of working women and others who can become pregnant. Although we are fortunate to live in Illinois, where reproductive rights have been protected, our full rights should not be determined by the geographic boundaries of the states in which we live.