On June 24th, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States officially overturned Roe v. Wade (1973), a 50-year precedent that provided federal protection and a constitutional right to abortion. Despite this decision, national polling confirms that 61% of Americans desire access to abortion in all or most cases. Upon the reversal, decision-making authority over reproductive rights dispersed to state legislatures where laws and regulations are decided by the governing bodies and will vary across state and local municipalities. Some states are working to codify abortion access in their state constitutions through amendments, ballot initiatives, or by state Supreme Courts. In contrast, others seek to severely limit or completely ban abortion access using the same strategies. Implications of restrictive reproductive care are well documented in the health and medical communities with conclusive evidence confirming that health disparities disproportionately affect women of color, and will be further exacerbated by this ruling. Individuals seeking health care services should research information regarding the laws in their state of residence to determine their current ability to access reproductive health services and to be mindful that laws will fluctuate in the upcoming months as states vote on legislation. For those living in restrictive states, resources and services are available to support and enable access to care.
On July 8th, 2022, in response to the SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade, President Biden signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Services. This Order intends to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion and contraception; protect the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information; promote the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and coordinate the implementation of Federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to health care.
In the coming months, the United States expects even more federal, state, and local changes in response to the Roe v. Wade decision. For example, about 45% of OB-GYN residents train in states expected to ban abortions. What does that mean for physician training and ultimately patient care? Will legislation pass to codify Roe v. Wade and protect healthcare providers that provide abortions (H.R. 8296)? Will legislation that allows women to cross state lines to obtain legal abortions pass (H.R. 8297)? What are other unknown repercussions? How do they affect all family members? How do these laws affect existing health disparities?
Continuum Health continues to watch.
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