WASHINGTON — Today (June 29), the Supreme Court struck down a medically unnecessary Louisiana abortion restriction in a 5-4 decision in June Medical Services v. Russo. This means access to safe, legal abortion in Louisiana is protected for now, but attacks on our reproductive rights continue. The court ruled that Louisiana’s abortion restriction, which is identical to one it struck down four years ago in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, cannot stand under that precedent — it is unconstitutional to impose medically unnecessary laws that burden a person’s right to safe, legal abortion.
Though today’s ruling is a victory for access to abortion in Louisiana, the onslaught of attacks on our health care access is far from over. Sixteen other cases on abortion access are still one step away from the Supreme Court — and any one of them opens the door to restrict or nullify Roe v. Wade altogether. For Black people in particular, there can be no reproductive freedom until there is freedom to live without fear of persecution or violence; that violence can be as blatant as police brutality, or as subtle as policies that chip away the ability to control their bodies, lives and futures. The same politicians who use racial oppression as a tool to suppress the vote and implement stand-your-ground laws also push policies that take away Black people’s reproductive rights. Had the court allowed the state’s restriction to stand, over 850,000 women of reproductive age in Louisiana — a quarter of whom are Black women — would find abortion virtually inaccesible.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“After today’s decision, we can breathe a sigh of relief. The Supreme Court sent a clear message to politicians across the country: Stop trying to take away access to safe, legal abortion.
“But our fight is far from over. While today is a victory for Louisianans, we must remember that we are in a world where politicians have pushed basic health care almost out of reach for millions of Americans, and where your ability to access abortion is still determined by where you live, how much money you make, and in this country that effectively also means the color of your skin. Far too many Black people, who are already dealing with the overt racism of police brutality, also endure more subtle, state-sanctioned policies like the ones that further limit and restrict access to abortion, that make access to bodily autonomy nearly impossible.
“We need more access to health care — not less. We will not back down from this fight, and we will not let politicians interfere with our ability to control our own bodies, lives, and futures.”
A record-high 77 percent of Americans say they do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and there is no state where making abortion illegal is popular. But last year alone, more than 300 abortion restrictions were introduced in nearly every state in the country. Reproductive rights supporters have been galvanized by these attacks — advocating for policies that would expand health care access and protect access to safe, legal abortion, with major legislation passing in Illinois, New York, and several other states. In fact, one-quarter of all proactive abortion policies passed since Roe v. Wade were enacted just last year.