Two years ago, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade, ending nearly five decades of federal protection for abortion rights. This shift has altered reproductive rights in the United States, with dangerous implications for healthcare professionals and patients alike.  

The Dobbs decision has had a snowball effect. Since the ruling, 21 states have enacted total abortion bans or severe restrictions. As of April 2023, 14% of the U.S. population lives more than 200 miles from the nearest abortion facility. Over 171,000 women have traveled out of state to receive the care they need in 2023, and at least 70 women have nearly died because of delayed or denied care. Tragically, some women have died as a result. 

Healthcare professionals are leaving states with restrictive abortion laws, putting already strained healthcare systems under more pressure. Medical students and residents are increasingly avoiding residency programs in states with abortion bans, seeking training in states where they can receive comprehensive training. In restrictive states, those who pursue medical training may receive inadequate instruction in critical areas of reproductive health, leaving doctors unprepared to handle complications. 

Doctors and nurses are choosing to practice medicine in states where they do not have to weigh the risks of providing life-saving care against potential criminal prosecution. This summer, the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), determining if doctors can be imprisoned for providing emergency medical care, if that emergency medical care involves an abortion, in states with restrictive laws. Inevitable physician shortages in restricted states mean longer wait times, fewer appointments, and overburdened facilities. Patients also face delays and outright denials of care when experiencing life-threatening, yet treatable, pregnancy-related emergencies, leading to catastrophic consequences for them and their families.  

Marginalized communities, including the historically under-resourced, people of color, and those in rural areas, are disproportionately affected by these dangerous trends. These communities often experience greater healthcare disparities, have less access to healthcare resources, and face greater barriers to traveling out of state for care. The current trajectory exacerbates these inequities, leading to worse health outcomes and increased mortality rates over time. 

On June 13th, the Supreme Court decided to uphold access to Mifepristone, a key medication for abortion and miscarriage care, keeping federal regulations unchanged. This is a significant win for reproductive rights, but our fight is far from over. Today, we await a decision from the Supreme Court regarding the Idaho “Defense of Life Act,” which would exempt hospitals from the requirement that they provide emergency care for pregnant women with life-threatening pregnancies. In addition to this, some states are attacking in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and access to contraception. 

The path forward requires collective action. It is imperative that we stay informed, engage with others on these critical issues, and, most importantly, vote. The future of reproductive rights depends on it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *