On Dobbs Anniversary, Advocates Mark ‘Two Years of Outrage’ and Rally for Abortion Rights

By Julia Conley | 24 June 2024
Common Dreams

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Exactly two years after the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for nearly half of U.S. states so far to ban or severely restrict abortion care, reproductive justice advocates convened in Washington, D.C. on Monday to mark the anniversary and speak out ahead of another ruling that could have deadly consequences for pregnant people across the country.

As the country marks two years since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned the 1973 ruling that affirmed Americans have the constitutional right to obtain abortions, advocates expressed a need to acknowledge the harm caused by Dobbs while also looking ahead to the pro-forced pregnancy movement’s desire to further restrict reproductive rights.

“Women shouldn’t have to wait to see if the Supreme Court will decide if they can get lifesaving healthcare in all states. This is a direct result of the disastrous Dobbs decision two years ago,” said Margaret Viggiani, a campaigner who joined the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice Monday at the rally and press conference in the nation’s capital.

The decision expected by the end of the month is Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States, which stems from Idaho’s near-total ban on abortion care. In August 2022, a federal judge barred the state from enforcing the ban due to its conflict with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospital emergency departments that accept Medicare to provide treatment to any patient with an emergency medical condition, including people facing pregnancy complications who need abortions.

Since the Dobbs decision was handed down two years ago, the real-world implications of abortion bans have become clear to many Americans as advocates have shared the stories of women like Kate Cox, who was forced to flee Texas to obtain abortion care when she learned her fetus had a fatal condition; Anya Cook and Shanae Smith-Cunningham, who faced the dangerous condition preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (PPROM) but were unable to receive the standard of care recognized by obstetricians under Florida’s 15-week abortion ban; and Amanda Zurawski, who was forced to become “sick enough” from a rapidly spreading infection before doctors would provide an abortion in Texas.

The life-threatening experiences of those women and others, said Human Rights Watch on Monday, exemplify “two years of outrage” since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“The Supreme Court’s revocation of national protections for abortion access, and the restrictive state laws that followed, means the United States is violating the rights to life, health, privacy, nondiscrimination, and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, among others,” said the global organization. “Access to legal abortion is essential to achieve gender equality. Every year, more leaders, legislatures, and courts abroad understand this. U.S. states should repeal restrictions on abortion, enshrine access to abortion in state constitutions, and advance the global trend of recognizing women’s autonomy.”

Last month, polling from the Pew Research Center suggested the stories of Zurawski, Cox, and other women have struck a chord with many Americans; more than 60% said they believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a four-percentage-point jump from 2021.

At the rally in Washington on Monday, reproductive rights advocates joined union members in calling on the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to convene a national labor conference for reproductive justice, arguing that the largest federation of unions in the U.S. “is in the most powerful position to mobilize thousands of workers in defense of this fundamental right.”

With 1 in 3 women of reproductive age in the U.S. now living in states with abortion bans, Reproductive Justice Maryland executive director Jakeya Johnson said at the rally that the Dobbs decision has “disproportionately impacted those who are marginalized and struggling to make ends meet.”

“Today we’re here to say, enough is enough,” said Johnson. “The power of our collective voices cannot be underestimated. When labor and reproductive justice movements join forces, we are unstoppable. We’re a force for change, and our strength lies in our numbers.”

Meanwhile, groups including Reproductive Freedom for All, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America marked the Dobbs anniversary by launching their Abortion Access Now campaign, pledging a $100 million investment to advance abortion rights and access through lobbying, grassroots organizing, public education, and other communications strategies.

“We envision a future where abortion, and all sexual and reproductive healthcare, is not only legal but also accessible, affordable, and free from stigma or fear,” said the campaign. “This campaign is committed to building and leading a broad, inclusive vision for abortion access, ensuring everyone can make fundamental decisions about their health and bodies with dignity and support. Together, we will secure the freedom to control our own bodies and care for ourselves, our families, and our communities.”

A separate campaign launched by the judicial reform group Stand Up America similarly marked the Dobbs anniversary and focused on warning U.S. voters that a victory by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November would “ensure MAGA control of the [U.S. Supreme] Court for decades to come,” with an impact on abortion rights and other crucial issues.

“We can’t let that happen,” said executive director Christina Harvey.

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