The Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in June, could refrain from overturning Roe or craft a compromise in which early pregnancy abortions remain protected. But many legal scholars who have watched the pleadings say it’s likely Roe will be significantly weakened.
The women most affected in the banned states are said to be those who cannot travel easily. They are disproportionately poor, black, Latino, adolescent, uninsured and undocumented.
“The most vulnerable will be left behind and forced to carry pregnancies they weren’t prepared for,” said Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion provider in North Dakota, which has a trigger law that would make abortion illegal without Roe.
Understanding the Memorable Mandate of the Supreme Court
Mississippi Abortion Act. The court heard arguments in a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. The case could lead to the end of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
While some states have tightened restrictions on abortion in recent years, more and more organizations have helped women book and pay for their flights or gasoline, hotels and childcare. But their leaders say they don’t have the capacity, in money or in personnel, to help the number of women in the South and Midwest who would need it if Roe were to fall.
One of those groups, Fund Texas Choice, got about 35 calls a month before Texas banned most abortions in September, and was able to help almost everyone who called. He has since received up to 300 calls a month and had to turn down half of them, said Anna Rupani, the group’s executive director. Seventy percent of its clients are people of color and 60 percent are parents.
“It will be absolutely unbearable if Roe is toppled,” she said.
Many states that would ban abortion also have the least social supports for women and children, such as robust access to family planning services or paid family leave, and have high levels of child poverty. Studies have shown that being denied an abortion has economic effects that last for years.
Some who oppose abortion say the next step is to create more of a safety net for poor mothers. “There has never been enough alternative help for women,” said Chuck Donovan, who has worked in the anti-abortion movement for decades, now as president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. “This is something pro-lifers could accept, even if it frustrates spending conservatives.”