FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations
Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn its nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision allowing a constitutional right to abortion is a catastrophic judicial failure that will reverberate differently in each state and portends to jeopardize the health and lives of all Americans.
APHA has long held that access to a full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, is a fundamental right. When access to abortion is denied, it further undermines the health of marginalized populations.
The Supreme Court’s action is no surprise. A draft of the decision released weeks ago prompted dismay and heartache, along with rightful protests across the country.
Written by Justice Samuel Alito, in a Mississippi case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the decision is an error of science, a lapse in values, and a misguided punch to a nation still reeling over a pandemic. It is the greatest setback for reproductive rights in more than a generation and among the worst decisions in Supreme Court history.
Specifically, today’s action overturns a decision by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found a Mississippi law ran afoul of the Supreme Court precedent by seeking to effectively ban abortions at 15 weeks. This drastic rollback of reproductive rights is likely to have a major impact on a range of other reproductive and health services. APHA submitted an amicus brief to the court on this case urging them to reject the Mississippi law.
With the Supreme Court’s action, many states are pushing bills that reflect Mississippi’s ban, or put even more extreme restrictions into place that violate human rights. This tragic acceleration of denying abortion access increases the risk of injury or death. Also, pregnant people pushed to carry unintended pregnancies to term face higher risks of poverty and poorer health.
Congress must immediately pass legislation to protect and advance access to abortion and reproductive justice, and remove restrictions on public funding and insurance coverage for legal abortions. States must take action to make the procedure legal for patients who seek it and abortion providers who offer the essential health care service. Further, states should fund and equip their public health departments to help people obtain comprehensive reproductive health services consistent with public health values and frameworks.
The Supreme Court decision sets the nation back decades and demands action by all of us to protect reproductive freedom for all. A public health strategy to achieve health in all policies, economic equality, social justice and human rights should protect and advance access to abortions and reproductive justice.