The Supreme Court made history on Jan. 22, 1973 by ruling to make abortion legal across the U.S. But Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision granting federal constitutional rights to abortion, was overturned last June. That dangerous new decision ended our protected right to abortion and allowed each state to pass its own abortion bans — making abortion care illegal or extremely hard to get.
As a result, abortion access is now blocked for one in three women across the country. Weeks after Roe was overturned, 18 states ended or severely restricted access to abortion. Today more states are working to pass bans. For the most up-to-date information on state-by-state laws, check out AbortionFinder.org.
Roe v. Wade was an important step for reproductive health and rights — but for millions of people, it was no help at all.
From the start Roe v. Wade was flawed. It did say people had the right to abortion, but it never protected people's access to abortion. Lots of states passed laws that made getting an abortion nearly impossible. And in 1973, the Hyde Amendment, a national policy widely viewed as racist, became law.
The Hyde Amendment blocks abortion access to people with low incomes by banning the use of federal health care funds, like Medicaid, from covering the cost of most abortions. Due to long-standing systemic racism that limits people's access to health care and economic opportunity, a disproportionate number of Black people and other people of color rely on Medicaid for health care. Other federal health insurance programs followed Hyde's lead. Abortion care coverage is also blocked for federal employees and military personnel and their families; Indigenous communities; Alaskan Natives; and inmates in federal prisons.
Black, Latino, and other people of color are most harmed by abortion bans, and states with the harshest restrictions also have the worst reproductive health outcomes, including extremely high maternal mortality rates.
Anti-abortion policies most harm Indigenous, Latino, and Black communities, people who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes. One study estimated that roughly 40% of Latinas live in states where abortion access is banned or likely to be banned. More than half of the U.S. Black population lives in the South, where there is a high concentration of anti-abortion restrictions. This increases the risk of abortion criminalization for Black women, who are already disproportionately criminalized and arrested.
And a groundbreaking study showed that people who are denied an abortion have an increased risk of significant economic hardship, are more likely to stay in contact with a violent partner, and face worse health outcomes for themselves and their children.
Biased crisis pregnancy centers don't offer the medical help they claim — and use scare tactics to talk people out of abortion.
So-called crisis pregnancy centers, primarily operated by anti-abortion groups, deliberately mislead people. They knowingly give patients false information about abortion and their pregnancy options. Some centers even claim they can take the place of safe abortion providers, but it’s just not true. Crisis pregnancy centers don’t provide abortion or a full range of health care services. Their goal is simple: to give vulnerable patients false comfort and stop them from getting abortions.
Legit health centers don’t pressure or lecture people. Medical professionals, like those at Planned Parenthood health centers, explain all of your pregnancy options and let you make your own decision. Planned Parenthood will give you honest, science-based information and help connect you with actual resources, no matter what you decide to do about your pregnancy.
Abortion access shouldn’t be based on your ZIP code, income level, or race.
The ability to make your own medical decisions cannot rightfully depend on which state you live in, your immigration status, how much money you make, your ethnic heritage, or your gender identity. Everyone deserves the freedom to control their body and life, no matter what.
Today, we mark the role of Roe v. Wade in protecting that freedom. But we also reflect on the reality that Roe was never enough. It didn’t give equitable access to abortion. And we have a long way to go to expand health care access for everyone in this country