The United States Supreme Court decided this Friday (24) to revoke the 1973 court decision on which the right to abortion in the country was based. The court, with a conservative majority, considered that the decision Roe versus Wade was taken in error, as the US Constitution makes no mention of the right to abortion, so the precedent is not valid.
O vote representing the winning majority, written by minister Samuel Alito, says: “it is time to give importance to the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to representatives elected by the people”. The court’s decision will only go into effect when it is certified by a US attorney general, which does not have a legal deadline.
Written by minister Stephen Breyer and followed by ministers Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the minority vote draws attention to the political agenda behind the decision. “Most have repealed Roe and Casey for one and only reason: they have always despised them, and now they have the votes to get rid of them. Thus, the majority are replacing the rule of law with the rule of judges,” Breyer wrote.
The right to abortion will not be completely banned in the country. Each state has the autonomy to legislate on the subject. According to a survey carried out by the newspaper New York Times (see complete lists at end of text), 20 states and the District of Columbia must maintain or expand abortion rights in their territories. On the other hand, another 20 must ban or restrict the practice, with at least 13 states having already passed more restrictive laws, which will take effect as soon as the Supreme Court decision is published. The 10 remaining states have an uncertain situation regarding the issue.
According to the website The Conversation, nine states have laws passed prior to the Roe v. Wade decision that restrict or ban access to abortion. Among the ways to make it difficult for women to access abortion, the text cites banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, when many women have not yet discovered that they are pregnant, or limiting the reasons that guarantee access to abortion, such as banning termination of pregnancy in case of fetal malformation.
It should be noted that, so far, none of the states that limit or prohibit abortion criminalize pregnant women, unlike Brazil. The targets of the legislation are doctors and other health professionals who offer the service, who may in some cases lose the right to practice the profession.
One way out for women residing in states with anti-abortion laws may be what is being called “abortion tourism”, that is, traveling to places that allow the procedure to be performed. However, this can be an obstacle for poor women, the ones most affected by unwanted pregnancies, according to study published in the journal Lancet.
A recent change that could make life easier for women in the US is telemedicine. Due to the circulation restrictions necessary to control the covid-19 pandemic, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the body responsible for drug control in the USA, has expanded the possibility of prescribing and sending medicines by post office.
This includes the drugs misoprostol and mifepristone, which form the most commonly used cocktail to induce abortion. There are discussions about how to control the mailing of abortifacient drugs.
States with pro-abortion laws:
California, New York, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, Hawaii, Alaska, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
States that already have or must pass laws to restrict the right:
Texas, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Nebraska and Kansas.
Editing: Rodrigo Durao Coelho