In a new report for Science Advances, ANSIRH’s Katrina Kimport, PhD, outlines the far-reaching consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade, which based on research, will go beyond the borders of states that ban abortion and present legal and health risks for millions in the U.S.
Following the decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, abortion is expected to become widely illegal in about half of U.S. states.
Based on published research, three effects of the Dobbs decision are predicted: more people surveilled and criminalized for activities during pregnancy; more people denied abortion care; and more delays in obtaining abortion care.
First, Kimport writes, “we can expect increasing suspicion and investigation of all kinds of pregnancy loss.” In states that ban abortion, a person who self-manages an abortion may be breaking the law, and because a spontaneous miscarriage is indistinguishable from an abortion caused by pills, all pregnant people are at risk of such criminalization. We can also expect health care workers will be compelled to report patients for possible self-managed abortion, increasing surveillance.
Second, we can expect an increase in the number of people denied in-state abortion care, including third-trimester abortion patients whose cases fell under narrow exceptions in laws before Dobbs. In states that have fully banned abortion, that care is now prohibiting, creating a new group of people denied in-state abortion care.
Third, a growing number of people will face delays in abortion care and will not be able to carry out their decision until the second or third trimester. State-level bans will lead to clinic closures, which will force people to travel longer distances to receive care and increase demand in clinics that do stay open. “Put simply, state-level abortion bans affect abortion timing for everyone,” writes Kimport.
Across these outcomes, criminalization and surveillance, delays in care, and abortion denials will disproportionately affect people in socially marginalized populations, including people living on low incomes and Black and brown people.
“While future research will document and measure the specific effects of Dobbs, we already know that this decision will have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the borders of states that ban abortion and into the lives of anyone who experiences pregnancy loss.”
Read the full article, Abortion after Dobbs: Defendants, denials, and delays, in Science Advances.