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Supreme Court Decision and Abortion Access at PPGP

As a longtime provider of essential reproductive and sexual health care, including abortion, PPGP wants to make sure our patients and supporters understand the June 24, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson (MS) Women’s Health Organization (JWHO).

The decision eliminates 50 years of federal protection for the right to abortion – enabling many state bans on abortion to take effect, including those in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. While PPGP is not providing medical or surgical abortions in these states at this time, residents can visit abortionfinder.org for help identifying and accessing their best option for medically supervised care. 

Abortion remains protected under the Kansas State Constitution and PPGP health centers in Kansas are providing abortion care. PPGP continues to provide other services throughout our four-state region.

For further information on bans across the country and PPGP’s efforts to continue making sure patients receive care, read below:

What was the Roe v. Wade decision?

Roe was decided in 1973 by a 7-2 vote majority of Supreme Court Justices, and established that the constitutional right to privacy affirms a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy prior to 28 weeks. At the time, 28 weeks was considered the age at which a fetus could survive outside the womb: i.e. “viability.”

The Roe decision was modified by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. Though Casey introduced a more restrictive gestational limit (23-24 weeks), it reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from enforcing abortion bans, or other restrictions that created an undue burden for patients seeking care to end a pregnancy.

How does the JWHO decision affect Roe?

In 2018, Mississippi passed a 15-week ban on abortion. Because this limit was more strict than the limit established in the Casey decision it was blocked by lower courts, and appealed until it reached the Supreme Court. The State of Mississippi asked the court to permit the state’s 15-week ban by eliminating the standard in Roe and in Casey, that upheld federal protection for abortion prior to “viability.” In addition, Mississippi asked the court to overturn the constitutional basis of the Roe decision by ruling that the privacy rights enshrined in the 14th Amendment do not guarantee a person’s right to an abortion.

In the JWHO ruling, a 6-3 majority of the court sided with the State of Mississippi. This was a total loss for reproductive rights. The court not only allowed the Mississippi ban to stand, but went so far as to OVERTURN Roe, removing 50 years of federal protection and granting any state the opportunity to ban abortion. 

What does that mean for anyone in America who can become pregnant?

Swiftly following the June 24 decision, “trigger laws” are expected to go into effect banning abortion almost instantly across 13 states. Soon another 13 states will be certain or likely to follow suit - leaving 26 states across much of the American south and midwest, 36 million reproductive-age women, and more people who have a uterus and can become pregnant, with fewer reproductive rights than the rest of the country.

A “trigger law” is an abortion ban that has been passed in any given state, while Roe was still in effect, but only scheduled to take effect in the event that Roe is overturned.

What does this mean for anyone in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, or Oklahoma who can become pregnant?

In the PPGP service area, only Kansas still protects the right to abortion in its state constitution. On August 2, 2022, Kansas was the first state to vote to protect abortion rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe. Kansans overwhelming voted to upheld the Kansas constitutional protection.

While trigger laws for each state vary across Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, PPGP has stopped providing abortion care on June 24, 2022. Missouri and Oklahoma were already without access to abortion care because of extreme bans in place. Residents of these states can visit abortionfinder.org for help identifying and accessing their best option for medically supervised care.

Can a pregnant person be punished for obtaining an abortion now?

None of these trigger laws punish a pregnant person for seeking or obtaining an abortion.

However, Oklahoma recently passed abortion bans (including a total ban) allowing vigilantes to sue a pregnant person’s health care provider, family members, or anyone else who helps that individual obtain an abortion within the state. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ultimately found these laws violate the Oklahoma Constitution, but other bans remain in place that prohibit PPGP from providing abortion care in Oklahoma.

What is PPGP doing to make sure patients can still receive abortion care with medical support?

Even in this very dim moment in American history, Planned Parenthood Great Plains is well prepared to continue providing expert reproductive health care. We have operated in a post-Roe reality since September 2021, caring for thousands of patients from Texas seeking abortions after that state’s six-week ban took effect. When Oklahoma imposed an even more extreme ban in 2022, we pivoted again, launching the Center for Abortion and Reproductive Equity (CARE) to establish and help patients navigate a regional network of abortion providers and mental health, social work, and community-based organizations that can ensure follow-up support and advocacy opportunities for patients in the places they call home.

Meanwhile, PPGP has filed legal challenges to many of the abortion bans passed this legislative session in states across our affiliate.

While PPGP is no longer providing medical or surgical abortions in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, residents can visit abortionfinder.com for help identifying and accessing their best option for medically supervised care.

Our doors are still open, and will stay open, to affordably meet your sexual, reproductive, and primary health care needs today, tomorrow, and the next day.

What is PPGP doing to fight back against abortion bans?

Planned Parenthood Great Plains will continue fighting for everyone’s right to make decisions about their bodies, their futures, and their families. In addition to launching CARE and creating a network of patient-advocates, PPGP has joined several other allied organizations to form the Kansans for Constitutional Freedom (KCF) coalition. KCF is running a campaign to defeat the anti-abortion amendment that is on the August 2, 2022 ballot in Kansas.

Meanwhile, PPGP has filed legal challenges to many of the abortion bans passed this legislative session in states across our affiliate.