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Defend Roe v. Wade Rally in Milwaukee on May 7, 2022. Photo Credit: Susan Ruggles from Milwaukee, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Impact of Overturning Roe v. Wade

June 30, 2022

The Impact of Overturning Roe v. Wade

The effects of overturning Roe v. Wade are far-reaching, and likely to most negatively impact the most vulnerable groups in the U.S.


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Overturning Roe

On Jan. 22, 1973, with a 7-2 decision in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law banning abortion, effectively legalizing abortion across the United States. It was found that banning abortion went directly against the constitutional right to privacy ensured in the 14th Amendment. A woman’s right to an abortion was later reaffirmed in the Supreme Court's 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. However, after 49 years with Roe as precedent, on June 24, 2022, a 5-to-4 ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe and Casey. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the final opinion: “We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

Upon the ruling, trigger laws went into effect in several states. Trigger laws are bans/restrictions on abortion that would go into effect following the overturning of Roe. The following states had restrictive abortion laws fall into place almost immediately: Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Mississippi’s trigger law went into effect on June 27 after it was certified by the state’s attorney general. And Alabama, Ohio and South Carolina’s court-ordered bans on restrictive abortion laws have been lifted following the Dobbs decision. Other states now in the process of enacting abortion bans include Idaho, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. State courts in Louisiana and Utah have temporarily blocked trigger laws from being enforced in those states.

Abortion is currently protected under law in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Abortion is allowed at any stage in Colorado, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont. Abortion is protected until the fetus is viable or if it is necessary to protect the pregnant person’s health and life in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington. And abortion is legal up to 24 weeks or if necessary to protect the life and health of the pregnant person in Massachusetts, Nevada and New York.

View the Guttmacher Institute’s Interactive Map: US Abortion Policies and Access After Roe.

Effects of Overturning Roe v. Wade

The effects of overturning Roe v. Wade are far-reaching, and likely to most negatively impact the most vulnerable groups in the U.S.: “people already impacted by poverty, lack of healthcare access and racism in the healthcare system.” View the infographics from the Guttmacher Institute below to learn who will be most affected by the abortion bans.

Abortion patients are disproportionately poor and low income

U.S. Abortion Patients

Substandard Pregnancy/Miscarriage Care

Abortions are now outlawed in multiple states except for when it threatens the life of the pregnant person. However, these bans can also negatively affect the care that people who are pregnant and experiencing life-threatening risks or miscarriages are receiving. The banning of abortions leads to additional challenges and hoops that medical care providers must jump through to ensure that they are not prosecuted for the care they provide. With the introduction of trigger laws, medical providers were thrown into a world of uncertainty on what care they were legally allowed to provide. Appointments had to be rescheduled, and people suffering from life-threatening issues were made to wait at the risk of death as doctors consulted lawyers to ensure that they would not be arrested for any of the procedures they performed.

BU Today reported on June 24, following the Supreme Court decision:

Already, a patient in Texas with an ectopic pregnancy has been turned away for care because the clinicians were afraid that treating her pregnancy would violate S.B.8, the state law banning most abortions. And at least one Texas pharmacy has let area physicians know that they would no longer dispense methotrexate, the medication used to treat ectopic pregnancy, citing the law. Restrictive abortion laws in more states are likely to lead to more cases of patients with ectopic pregnancy being unable to secure timely, and life-saving, care.

Listen to NPR’s 11-Minute Discussion: Kentucky Doctors Consider Patient Care Following the Supreme Court's Abortion Ruling

Birth Control

No state has currently banned or restricted birth control, but with the overturning of Roe, states now have the opportunity to move forward with restrictions on birth control. Some lawmakers are arguing that life begins at fertilization, which could lead to bans on emergency contraceptives like Plan B and IUDs because both forms of birth control prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the womb. States that are currently considering whether to ban Plan B and IUDs as an abortive medication include Idaho, Louisiana and Missouri. The banning of these forms of birth control could be particularly devastating; IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control, and access to emergency contraceptives such as Plan B is an important safety net and is used to prevent pregnancy in survivors of rape.

In Vitro Fertilization

Similarly, if life is defined as beginning when an egg is fertilized this can lead to restrictions on IVF that can lead to fewer people being able to afford IVF or successfully become pregnant through IVF. In vitro fertilization requires multiple eggs to be fertilized to increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant, but usually not all are implanted in the uterus with some healthy embryos usually being frozen and unhealthy embryos usually being discarded. This may lead to only a small number of eggs being fertilized, so there may not be the option to discard or freeze any fertilized eggs—resulting in more visits, more money, lower success rates, and the possibility of fertility clinics facing homicide charges.

Corporation’s Healthcare Benefits

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, many corporations are offering a new healthcare benefit to cover the cost of travel expenses for employees who need to visit another state to get an abortion. Companies that have announced these policies include Amazon, CitiGroup, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Disney, Meta and Yelp.

Listen to Marketplace’s discussion on this benefit here: “​​Some Employers Enter Roe v. Wade Discussion Via Travel Benefits for Employees.”

Discussion Questions

  • What Supreme Court case overturned Roe v. Wade?
  • What is a trigger law? Which states had trigger laws go into effect when Roe was overturned?
  • Which states have laws protecting abortion?
  • Which population of individuals are likely to be affected the most by bans on abortion?
  • How does the Supreme Court’s decision affect people with ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages?
  • How could this affect women’s access to birth control?
  • How could this affect IVF?
  • Why are some companies offering new health benefits to cover travel expenses of those who need abortions?
Megan Ortmeyer
Megan Ortmeyer is an SML Team Member and has worked in the AFT Educational Issues Department since fall 2018. She received her M.A. in education policy studies in May 2020 from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University. Prior to working at the AFT,... See More

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