Dear Friends and Allies,
I am guessing that the disastrous developments happening in Texas and the Supreme Court have already caught your attention. But just in case: a few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court did not stop a plainly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, Texas’s SB8, from going into effect. And on December 1, the Court will hear arguments in another abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That case involves a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, but Mississippi has explicitly asked the court to use that case as a basis for overturning Roe v. Wade.
NAPW has long known that we could not take Roe’s continued existence for granted and that much more than abortion is at risk if the Supreme Court accepts Mississippi’s invitation to overturn that decision.
On Monday, we filed an amicus curiae (friend of court) brief in the Supreme Court in support of the Mississippi abortion provider challenging the 15-week ban. I am so proud of this brief and the fact that we filed it on behalf of 12 amazing organizations that advocate for and provide care to the people who get pregnant, give birth, and become mothers. Our brief focuses the Court on the fact that overturning Roe won’t just impact abortion – doing so would also undermine the constitutional rights of every one of the 6 million people in the United States who get pregnant each year.
NAPW’s brief highlights aspects of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that Mississippi ignored: not only did those cases recognize and protect the right to have an abortion, they also established that women, even when pregnant and during all stages of pregnancy, are full and equal persons under the Constitution. This protection ensures that States cannot deny pregnant people their own liberty and autonomy based on a State’s interest in potential life.
As our brief explains, the assertion of States’ interest in protecting “unborn lives” has been used to justify coercive state actions depriving women of virtually every constitutional right, including their own right to life. NAPW has documented more than 1,600 cases where police, prosecutors, and judges misused their power to criminalize pregnancy or otherwise penalize women because of pregnancy and all of its possible outcomes – including pregnancy loss, birth, and abortion. As we have long said, and as we have now told the Supreme Court, this is what we can expect a whole lot more of if Roe and its progeny are overturned.
In fact, NAPW has gained a major new ally, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), in bringing to public attention the role we can expect police and prosecutors to play in a post-Roe world. As NACDL’s report explains, without Roe, “existing criminal statutes in states across the country will in fact subject women to criminal prosecutions & incarceration for their pregnancy outcomes,” leading to “mass incarceration on an unprecedented scale." As a consulting author who had the honor of writing the forward to the report, I am very grateful that the NACDL is joining us in the fight for reproductive justice and against criminalization.
And fight we must.
While we don’t know for sure what the future holds in the Dobbs case or for Texas, I am inspired by the activists on the ground in Texas who are working around the clock to get pregnant patients the services they need, assist with travel and lodging, and keep clinics open, as I explain in this commentary Why I Refuse to Feel Hopeless About the Texas Abortion Case.
NAPW will be there every step of the way, fighting for the rights of all pregnant people, including those who have experienced pregnancy losses, those who have given birth, and those who end their pregnancies, just as we have done for the past two decades. Please consider making a donation to support our work as we continue to organize, advocate, and defend anyone who has their rights threatened because they are pregnant or because of any pregnancy outcome.
Please take a look at our brief, learn about the organizations who joined us and read Cecilia Nowell’s article in New York Magazine that covers our work on Adora Perez's case and highlights the interconnectedness between abortion rights and the human rights of all pregnant people.
All of us at NAPW are deeply grateful for your support.
Lynn M. Paltrow
Founder and Executive Director
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
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