January 22, 2022, marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that protected the legal right to abortion in the United States. In 1970, Jane Roe (a fictional name used in court documents to protect her identity) filed a lawsuit against the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas, Henry Wade.
The lawsuit challenged a law in Texas that made abortion illegal except by a doctor’s orders to save the pregnant person’s life. In her lawsuit, Roe said that the state laws were unconstitutionally vague and abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court ultimately sided with Roe and recognized the constitutional right to have an abortion.
The freedom and power to decide if and when to start a family is a basic human right, and yet nearly half a century later, abortion is not a guaranteed right for millions across the country. In light of mounting attacks and threats to abortion access around the country, this year’s commemoration was more important than ever. The dark reality is that this quite possibly could have been the last anniversary we get to celebrate, as the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health could overturn or severely restrict Roe v. Wade. A decision in the case is not expected until Spring or Summer of 2022.
It is likely that the Supreme Court will overturn or severely restrict Roe v. Wade, which could result in over half of all U.S. states banning or significantly limiting access to abortion. Additionally, The Guttmacher Institute issued a report that shows a nearly 3,000% increase in out-of-state patients who would find their nearest health center to access abortion, now located in California. That means that patients with the means to travel will be forced to go to other states to access basic, critical care, and those without the means to travel may be forced to carry pregnancies against their will.
“While we wait for the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, we are not sitting still. Abortion providers in California, including Planned Parenthood, are preparing for a large influx of out-of-state patients to come to our health centers, and we are taking proactive measures to get ready to provide care to anyone who needs it,” said Darrah DiGiorgio Johnson, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. “At Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, our work matters not only to our communities in our three-county region, but for people across the country. We will always fight back against any and all abortion bans, and continue to work until we can ensure that everyone has access to safe and legal abortion, no matter where they live.”