Opinion: Roe is Not the Ceiling, It’s the Floor
In the dead of night, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made the devastating decision to turn its back on 50 years of precedent, rendering Roe v. Wade effectively meaningless in Texas and paving the path forward for a rollback of abortion access across the country.
Texas’ six week ban is the first of its kind, empowering and encouraging private citizens – maybe a neighbor, a distant relative, abusive partner, or even a stranger – to sue anyone who helps or intends to help someone get an abortion after six weeks. Each successful claim comes with a $10,000 bounty. This law seeks to isolate people seeking abortion by targeting their entire support network and discouraging their loved ones from helping them for fear of being sued. In their moment of highest need, people with unwanted pregnancies will have no one to turn to for help.
As an abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGOH) stands in solidarity with our neighbors in Texas, who now find abortion to be virtually inaccessible. We know this law is a blueprint for abortion bans that will make their way through state legislatures across the United States, including Ohio.
In just the last 10 years, Ohio has passed 30 restrictions on reproductive health care access, and we know Ohio’s anti-abortion faction is eager to bring home their own version of Texas’ dangerous and unpopular law. Already, city councils across the state have introduced their own extremist ordinances to ban abortion.
Lebanon, Ohio’s city council passed one in May that made it illegal to provide, aid, fund, or offer transportation for an abortion; violators face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. In Mason, Ohio the city council is considering an ordinance that borrows language directly from Texas’ bill, inviting anti-abortion extremists to sue a provider or person who helped make an abortion possible. With the passage of this law in Texas, we are prepared to see even more municipalities emboldened to pass their own abortion bans.
We know that outlawing and criminalizing abortion has the heaviest impact on those who already face immense barriers to health care. Because of the structural inequalities in our all of our systems, Black and Brown people, people with low incomes, and people in rural areas will be closer to becoming incarcerated than they are to being cared for with the resources, support, and compassion they need.
These attacks are part of a strategic, national agenda to end abortion access. Nearly 600 restrictions have been introduced in 2021 alone. SCOTUS is set to hear a case this upcoming term on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban – a case that could give individual states the right to determine the point of fetal viability. We anticipate oral arguments on this case to be later this fall with a decision made in June. Reproductive rights advocates and abortion providers across the country are already preparing for what a post-Roe world could look like.
Regardless of what happens in Ohio, PPGOH is prepared to meet our patients’ need for abortion care. In a post-Roe world, we will tap into the network of abortion providers and funds that assist people in navigating barriers to care, and we will ensure that Ohioans have access to abortion – no matter what.
Now is when we must do all we can to preserve and advance abortion access. We must fight, city by city and statewide to ensure Ohioans can still access the care they need. No matter what SCOTUS decides in the next year, PPGOH, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, and our partner organizations are fighting. We are fighting for a world beyond Roe – a world that doesn’t just protect abortion access in name only, but that ensures people and their families have the right and opportunities to parent if and when they need – and do so in a thriving and just environment. We are investing in our patients and in our communities, and our doors will stay open.
We cannot allow the reality of Texas now to become the reality of this country or Ohio. Every person should be able to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies, and that includes abortion.
Iris E. Harvey
President & CEO
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio