365 Days Later, We Aren’t Giving Up
It has been a year since the US Supreme Court issued its decision to deny a person’s constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion. Since then, we have witnessed how this decision has devastated lives and is creating aftershocks around the country and the world. In the US, millions of people of reproductive age have lost access to safe abortion, and this has deepened the already profound inequities in access to reproductive health care. As the Guttmacher Institute states, abortion restrictions impact “[n]ot only Black, Latino and Indigenous people and people living with low incomes, but transmen and nonbinary people, immigrants, adolescents and people living with disabilities are all particularly likely to encounter compounding obstacles to abortion care and be harmed as a result.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, since the US Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, 14 states have banned abortion and 11 states have enacted restrictions on accessing abortion. And restrictions continue to expand. Fifteen states have now also restricted access to medication abortion.
Though we are continuing to track the impact these bans and legal restrictions have on communities and individuals, we are also energized by the millions of people across the US who are working together to ensure access to safe and legal abortion. Following the ruling, in 25 states and the District of Columbia, abortion remains legal beyond 22 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP) and organizers across the country have stepped in to aid people in accessing abortion care. From increased support to local abortion funds that provide critical resources for abortion procedures, pills, transportation, and lodging, to fighting for abortion rights at the state and national level, advocates, providers, researchers, politicians, and women aren’t giving up—and we know more can be done if we continue to work together.
Since 1994, EngenderHealth has been committed, together with our partners, to ensuring the availability, accessibility, and quality of safe abortion care around the world. Our work includes countering misinformation, enhancing service delivery, advocating for a supportive enabling environment, working with local partners, and supporting policy change. From July 2021 to June 2022 our programs supported more than 33,000 individuals in receiving high-quality, comprehensive abortion care and averted an estimated 363,700 unsafe abortions.
EngenderHealth currently leads safe abortion programs in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and India, and our work continues to expand. In fact, next month EngenderHealth will launch its new Strategy for Expanding Abortion Rights, Equity and Access for a Gender-Equal World, which doubles-down on our commitment to supporting individuals in making free, informed decisions about sexuality and childbearing so they can live the lives they want. We will do this by continuing to collaborate and partner with local communities, civil society organizations, health systems, and governments.
While the Dobbs decision is a domestic policy and, in theory, should have no bearing on the rest of the world, the reality is that it does. The decision fosters confusion among international organizations who already navigate a complex web of US foreign policies regarding family planning and abortion, and it emboldens the opposition to abortion who are using it to push for restrictions to reproductive rights around the world. That’s why it’s even more critical that we work together, as individuals and organizations, to change the current trajectory. Together, we can increase access to safe, high-quality abortion care. Together, we can strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights, here and around the world. And together, we can further justice and equality.