OHIO, USA — Any day now, the Supreme Court could open the door for individual states to decide whether to ban abortions.
The ruling would overturn Roe v. Wade - ending the constitutional right to an abortion, and undoing nearly 50 years of precedent in our country.
In 1973, the US Supreme court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women are entitled to an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. Now, nearly 50 years later, that ruling could be overturned.
"Approximately half the states in this country are expected to ban abortion. This is a devastating day. We have fought to prevent this from happening," says Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of Pro-Choice Ohio.
A leaked draft of the forthcoming ruling suggests the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively making it the individual state’s decision to allow, restrict, or ban abortions altogether.
"I have to tell ya, when the leak came down, everybody in our circle, of course we were very excited. Every child is a miracle, and every human life is a miracle, and that’s what we believe," says Kate Makra, Executive Director of Cleveland Right to Life.
Pro-choice advocates say a Roe v. Wade overturn could open a Pandora’s Box of problems, including forcing women to seek abortion pills online without medical supervision, and criminalizing women who receive abortions - which may target underserved communities.
"We know that this is going to impact everyone. And those who already face the greatest barriers to accessing healthcare - Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ people, non-binary people - they will have the toughest time," says Copeland.
Anti-abortion advocates say overturning Roe v. Wade would be a step in the right direction, but it wouldn’t come with immediate, sweeping changes.
"Overturning Roe will not mean that suddenly abortion will be illegal in all 50 states. It's not going to happen overnight, and it'll be up to each individual state," says Makra.
According a 2019 Centers for Disease Control report, over 600,000 abortions are performed in the US each year. Women in their 20’s make up about 57%, 9% are teenagers, 35% over the age of 30, and over half have at least 1 child. Around 20,000 abortions are performed in Ohio each year.
"People make this decision because it’s the best decision for themselves and their families, for a variety of reasons," says Copeland.
"You don’t commit an act of violence on your body in the name of choice," says Makra.
The Supreme court usually tries to wrap up all its decisions by the end of June, and generally saves the biggest cases for last. It’s likely that this case will be decided sometime next week. Governor DeWine said if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, he would seek to lift the "heartbeat bill” - which effectively bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. He also might support pending legislation to fully ban abortions in Ohio.
Abortion advocates want President Biden to step in and take executive action to protect access to abortions.