Codify Roe v. Wade Into Federal Law
The constitutional right to access abortion ended when Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022. This overturning of Roe v. Wade continued the eroding of abortion rights across the nation by individual states. This has placed a disproportionate impact on underserved communities and those with low income.
In Florida, the State Legislature passed a law that bans most abortions after six weeks. Florida’s Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis signed the legislation into law, drastically reducing access for legal abortions across the state and the U.S. South. The six week access to abortion is before most women even know if they are pregnant. Many Southern states have banned abortion completely and Florida was considered a safe haven for women to come to exercise their right to a safe and legal abortion.
Outright bans from sister southern states with no exception for rape or incest include, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi (exception for rape but not incest), Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas (Abortion is banned with no exceptions for rape or incest. Private citizens can sue abortion providers and those who assist patients seeking an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.) Georgia has a six week ban. (A lower-court judge ruled the ban unconstitutional in November, but the State Supreme Court reinstated the ban while an appeal to that ruling proceeds.) In West Virginia abortion is also banned with exceptions for rape and incest. Many other states have bans with gestational limits.
A number of women in Florida exercised their right to protest through civil disobedience and were arrested in Tallahassee sitting in a circle in the State Capitol in Tallahassee, including State Democratic Chair Nikki Fried and State Senate minority leader, Lauren Book.
In New York state law protects abortion throughout pregnancy. Abortion has been legal under New York State law since 1970 – three years before the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the country. Because the right is codified in New York State law, federal decisions to limit access to abortion will not impact New York State. In New York, you can get an abortion up to and including 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, you can still get an abortion if your health or pregnancy is at risk.
In January 1973, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a fundamental "right to privacy", which protects a pregnant woman's right to an abortion.
In 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court affirmed what it called the central holding of Roe v. Wade, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for nearly a half century, no longer existed. Planned Parenthood v. Casey overruled Roe’s trimester framework and abandoned its “strict scrutiny” standard in favor of an “undue burden” test. An undue burden exists if it places substantial obstacles to a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability. Casey held that states could impose restrictions on abortion throughout pregnancy to protect potential life as well as to protect maternal health – including during the first trimester. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – affirmed it, but also modified it in significant ways. The Dobbs ruling replaces the “undue burden” test with the much weaker “rational basis” test for judicial review. Going forward, state restrictions on abortion must receive a “strong presumption of validity” and courts must uphold them as long as there is a “rational basis” for the legislature thinking that those laws advance “legitimate state interests.”
On June 24, 2022, in a historic and far-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade declaring that the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for nearly a half century, no longer exists.
Codify Roe v. Wade
We must pass a law in Congress, binding all states that would affirm a pregnant person’s right to an abortion without undue interference. Without a law to codify Roe v. Wade – we will remain a country divided and women across the country will not be guaranteed the right to unfettered access to abortion care.