Women’s healthcare has taken a new shape since the recent Supreme Court Ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2018, before Roe was overturned, Mississippi passed a law called the “Gestational Age Act,” which prohibits all abortions, with few exceptions, after 15 weeks’ gestational age. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only licensed abortion facility in Mississippi, filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the law. The case reached the Supreme Court in the spring of 2022. The decision ruled a 5-4 majority in favor of the state of Mississippi, overturning Roe v. Wade.
Gen Z women and girls have now been set back a generation with their healthcare and rights. Post-Roe, women will have a much harder time accessing certain medical needs such as abortion and forms of contraception.
This decision has restricted women's access to abortion in certain states. As of January 2023 The Guttmacher Institute reported that 24 states have implemented bans or restrictions on Abortions. Following, come bans on birth control pills and contraception. Under such harsh regulations doctors have begun denying lifesaving care to women in fear of legal consequences. Bloomberg Law reported that physicians who violate such laws can be prosecuted for a felony, and face fines up to $100,000 and years in jail. OBGYN specialist Donna Wigins said “As physicians we want to be able to save lives and do the right thing but we also have to maintain a medical practice, and stay out of jail. It really restricts the options we are able to offer patients. Because of this the NBC found that maternal death rates in states with abortion restrictions are 62% higher.
The main cause of abortion scrutiny comes from a stigma around abortion. “Abortion stigma” can be defined as negative cultural attitudes toward abortion. It Implies that abortion is a moral error rather than a health care need. A study on abortion stigma reported that Nearly half of abortion patients say they fear if others knew that had had an abortion, they would be looked down upon, while 58 percent feel the need to keep their abortion a secret.
A woman's ability to choose, if, when, and how to give birth is linked to her economic success and economic success for future generations, as well as mental health, and educational attainment. The Institute for Women's Policy Research found that restrictive abortion laws cost state and local economies $105 billion annually. This could push women who are not economically stable into poverty, exposing more women and children to poverty. A study done by the University of California San Francisco said Children born as a result of forced birth are more likely to live below the poverty line. Teenage advocate Alexi Pitman, 14, said teens and young women should have information to make good decisions when it comes to pregnancy coupled with money and school.
“We chose to make an Instagram account raising awareness abortion because as women these are laws that affect women our age,” Pitman said. “Many young women become pregnant not by their choice, and we believe that we should have the right to choose whether we are okay going through with that or not when thinking about the numerous factors that come into play.”
Abortion restrictions are found to impact young people specifically as they may have irregular periods, meaning it takes longer to find out they are pregnant; they have lower income and are less able to take time from work or school to travel long distances to seek abortion care.
Fortunately, it is these young people that are leading the effort to normalize abortions in women's healthcare. A recent Pew Survey showed 61% of adults ages 18 through 29 support abortion rights and are the main advocates for it. Pittman continues to say “With there being breaking news every day and considering that the Dobbs Decision happened a while ago, we felt that the topic wasn't as relevant anymore but we wanted to remind people that it still is.” It is because of youth activists like Pittman, there still remains hope that women's access to abortion care will be restored.