There is no legitimate reason to restrict or ban abortion. Yet we are on path to having abortion banned throughout the country.
If you’re under the misapprehension that anti-abortion legislators and activists would be placated with abortion as a state issue, I’m sorry to inform you that that is categorically untrue. The truth is that one state’s draconian legislation or court decision has the potential to reverberate across the country.
That is what we are seeing play out right now in Texas. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rolled back abortion medication access, stating that it can only be used up to seven weeks of gestation and no longer be sent by mail. While the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily restored access to the abortion pill until Wednesday, the implications are clear: The circuit court decision is firmly rooted in Christian nationalist sentiment — not science.
There is no evidence-based reason to restrict abortion medication. To begin with, abortion medication is far saferthan Tylenol and Viagra. And research has consistently found that abortion pills are safe and effective up until at least 11 weeks of gestation. Indeed, medication abortion pills have less than 1 percent risk of major complications. Additionally, if available by mail, abortion medication could allow millions of people to access abortion affordably and conveniently. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a group of 58,000 members, supports releasing restrictions on abortion medication, stating that highly regulating the pill “is no longer necessary for mifepristone, given its history of safe use. [This regulation] … is inconsistent with requirements for other drugs with similar or greater risks, especially in light of the significant benefit that mifepristone provides to patients.” Rolling back abortion medication access has the potential to have a negative impact on people in every state and territory in the United States.
In a statement, President Biden noted, “If this ruling were to stand, then there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the FDA, that would be safe from these kinds of political, ideological attacks. … It is the next big step toward the national ban on abortion that Republican elected officials have vowed to make law in America.” But facts don’t matter when anti-abortion legislators are on a mission to completely outlaw abortion. After all, if facts mattered, politicians would look to the experts who have consistently found that abortion restrictions have no rigorous scientific basis. In fact, a landmark study examining the impact of receiving versus being denied an abortion found that abortion restrictions significantly increase the likelihood that women will live in poverty, stay in abusive relationships and experience serious health problems as a result of the pregnancy and childbirth.
That’s why 25 medical groups, including the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Society for Reproductive Medicine and The Society of Family Planning, filed an amicus brief opposing abortion restrictions that were discussed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Of course, these recommendations were ignored and Roe v. Wade was repealed. Prominent organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and the World Health Organization agree that abortion should be expanded, not restricted. For example, WHO has estimated that 39,000 women die each year because of unsafe abortions due to abortion bans and restrictions.
Beyond evidence-based research, abortion is overwhelmingly supported by the American public, no matter their religious or nonreligious identity (although it is worth mentioning that nonreligious Americans are the most supportive of abortion, which includes 98.8 percent of FFRF members). The reasoning for banning and restricting abortion comes down to Christian nationalist ideology, namely the belief in “ensoulment” at conception and controlling people’s bodies. This is completely counter to the separation of state and church as outlined in the First Amendment.
If this crisis angers you and you want to make an immediate impact, I encourage you to donate to your local abortion fund. Abortion funds help remove financial and logistical barriers that millions of people face — and that many more undoubtedly will. The Women’s Medical Fund of Wisconsin, which was established by FFRF co-founder Anne Nicol Gaylor, is one such organization. Founded in 1972, when abortion was illegal in the majority of the country, the fund has supported more than 30,000 abortions over 50 years. Right now, it is raising $100,000 to support abortion care for at least 300 people in Wisconsin and so far has raised funding to help 64 individuals — but you can help it reach its goal. Every dollar up to $50,000 is doubled, so your donation goes twice as far. You can make a tax-deductible donation or form a fundraising team.
On Feb. 4, 2022, prior to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, I wrote that “the end game of the Religious Right [is] to totally and completely ban abortion — no exceptions.” That is exactly what we are seeing. I do believe that the ship can be turned around, but it will require all hands on deck.