On December 1, the Supreme Court heard arguments on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The decision would be a devastating blow to women’s reproductive rights in the United States. Thanks to the three conservative-leaning justices appointed during Donald Trump’s presidency, most news outlets and commentators are predicting that the Dobbs decision will ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion in the United States up to at least fetal viability — around 24 weeks.
The United States already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. With the potential for Roe v. Wade to soon be overturned, independent journalists have begun to consider what a “post-Roe” America would look like. Elisha Brown, writing for the American South-oriented news outlet Facing South, clarified how southern states will be impacted the most by the Supreme Court’s decision:
“Abortion rights are already severely limited in the South, and 11 of the 26 states likely or certain to ban abortion should Roe fall are in the region, according to a Guttmacher Institute analysis from October: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Ten of those 11 Southern states already have on the books what are known as ‘trigger bans’ — laws or constitutional provisions outlawing abortion that would take effect automatically if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.”
The independent feminist publication Ms. Magazine published a piece on the role of Facebook in disseminating anti-abortion propaganda and suppressing accurate medical facts, in regard to the abortion pill, a safe and affordable method of terminating a pregnancy at home without the help of a physician. Facebook has allowed for the spread of false, anti-abortion pill information whilst also removing posts containing real information from reproductive health groups.
“To counter this misinformation circulating on Facebook, the reproductive justice organization ReproAction posted graphics with medically accurate information about abortion pills. On October 21, Facebook removed these posts.”
But the assaults on reproductive rights by conservative organizations does not stop with social media. An investigation by the media outlet openDemocracy recently delved into the ties between far-right anti-abortion advocacy groups and the slow chipping away of reproductive rights in the U.S. and elsewhere. The analysis found that anti-abortion groups spent at least $28 million around the world between 2016 and 2019. The investigation also revealed ties between prominent Christian charities and largescale anti-abortion funding:
“These groups do not reveal the sources of their funding, but after looking into financial information disclosed by grant makers we can reveal that two U.S. charities, National Christian Foundation (NCF) and Fidelity Charitable, gave these groups $93m over the period 2016–2020 and rank among their top funders. NCF and Fidelity Charitable (an arm of Fidelity Investments) manage massive amounts of ‘dark money’ — funding from anonymous donors — and have been criticised [sic] for financing ‘hate groups.’”
Other independent outlets and commentators have stressed how the attacks on reproductive rights by far-right Christian groups are not only dangerous and effective, but are also connected to the attacks on transgender and LGBTQ+ rights.
In an interview with DemocracyNow!, investigative journalist Imara Jones explained:
“We know that groups such as the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom have all been on the cutting edge of the anti-abortion movement for decades now. They have just simply taken the tactics that they have learned from the anti-abortion movement and are now applying them to the anti-trans movement. For example, we are seeing doctors who provide gender-affirming care now being targeted by the right with demonstrations outside, with posters, with videos online, being doxxed online.
Similarly, Jacobin, a famously socialist magazine, argued that stricter abortion laws are being used as a tool to control women and criminalize their behavior:
“The true goal of the Federalist Society judges and the Christian right is to replace the viability standard with the idea of fetal personhood, giving full legal rights and constitutional protection to embryos and fetuses. The concept of fetal personhood has been steadily gaining ground in conservative-controlled states and has been used to police pregnancy.
Not surprisingly, there is widespread discrimination in the implementation of pregnancy criminalization laws, which tend to be disproportionately enforced against low-income women and women of color. There are more than 1,200 documented cases of women being arrested because of their pregnancy outcomes since 1973.”
Upon acknowledging these ties between Christian nationalism and conservative politics, many progressive outlets have put out a call for more radical vigor from progressives in the fight for reproductive rights. In the wake of the current Supreme Court proceedings, the nonprofit news organization Truthout published an op-ed, stating:
“Until the left takes up the fight for abortion as essential for the freedom and dignity of working people everywhere, basic bodily autonomy will remain a privilege of the rich and white. Moreover, the left will continue to miss a profound opportunity to wage a truly multiracial and liberatory fight that brings together women, LGBTQ people and the working class.”
Writing for Jacobin, activist Anne Rumberger also provided argument on the need for more radical energy in making abortion rights a key issue of the Left, claiming that the true power to make a difference in the fight for reproductive rights “lies in building a fighting mass movement that advances a bold agenda for free abortion on demand, universal health care, and social support for everyone to have the families they want, when they want… We can’t give up when the movement for reproductive freedom most needs radical energy.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is expected in June.
Photo via AP