It’s been a busy week in health news. Today, we tackle the leaked Supreme Court opinion that is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and what that means for the future of reproductive health rights and access in America.
1. Is this the end?
It’s been more than a week since POLITICO published a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that aimed to overturn Roe v. Wade. The draft pushed the highly politicized and polarizing topic back into the center of U.S. politics. In the last week, a lot has happened already — protests erupted; federal legislators vowed to protect access; and in 25 states, legislators have enacted trigger laws that will severely limit or outright ban abortion if the Supreme Court moves ahead with the decision.
There’s a lot to unpack in order to understand the magnitude of the decision and how we got here. Since Roe was passed in 1973, most Americans have thought abortion should be allowed in at least some circumstances, according to polling. The anti-abortion movement has worked hard over the last 50 years to chip away at abortion rights. Catch up on the abortion debate's key historical moments and biggest players in this timeline from Vox.
2. The Research
Scientific advancements have changed the landscape of the abortion debate since Roe’s passage in 1973. Both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups have increasingly relied on research to back up their claims. The role of data and science, however, gets complicated. For example, people who are against abortion have long argued that abortion is dangerous and has been on the rise since the passage of Roe v. Wade. Both of those claims are persistent myths. Here are other abortion claims that are not backed by current data.
Examining the claims that abortion harms pregnant people is notoriously hard. In one landmark study, the Turnaway Study, researchers compared outcomes for women who received or were denied abortions based on gestational age. The study found those who were denied an abortion were more likely to live in poverty and report fair or poor mental health outcomes for years afterward.
3. Around the World
Abortion is not solely contested in the United States. Poland and Brazil consider abortion a crime unless the woman’s life is threatened by the pregnancy or the pregnancy is the result of rape. But across the rest of Europe, abortion is mostly legal, and each country has its own restrictions on gestational age. In South America, Colombia and Argentina legalized abortion after having total bans on the procedure.
While the draft opinion is just that, a draft, experts say it’s overwhelmingly likely the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. The final decision is expected to come before the end of June.
Food lover Sasa Woodruff decided to live life without a stomach after a round of genetic testing revealed a worrisome mutation, CDH1. The mutation put her at high risk for a rare and possibly terminal type of stomach cancer. For Woodruff, coming to terms with the treatment was a process of handling loss and discovering a new, more positive perspective.
This week’s news can be especially triggering for some. When we face uncertainty and change, it helps to "slow down," "be with" and "find language." Take a second to take stock of how the news impacts you and practice putting words to your reactions. Allow yourself to take information as it comes, and find ways to reset and recenter before taking your next step. – Christen Mullane, clinical psychologist
By Claire Cleveland, science writer
Edited by Shannon Mullane, senior editor
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