The Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on June 24, 2022, ending a woman’s right to abortion upheld since 1973. Given the highly political nature of abortion and reproductive rights in the U.S., the effects of overturning Roe continue to make the front-page news. This lesson examines how historically marginalized groups in American history including Black women, poor women and domestic abuse survivors will be most adversely affected by the court’s decision.
Watch this video to learn about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, 2022.
First video: Impact on Black women
1. Davis says that the effects of the end of Roe and rise of abortion bans in states like Ohio will fall most harshly on Black women. Why do you think this is?
The factors that lead some Black women to seek abortions are present from the day they are born, passed down from mothers who faced similar plights. Those born into poverty are less likely to have access to health care, let alone reproductive or maternal health care; when some Black women are able to seek care, they face medical racism. For centuries, Black women have fought for autonomy over their bodies, against government-sanctioned abuse and abuse from intimate partners. The end of a constitutional right to legal abortion makes the fight harder.
2. Davis says that the end of Roe will worsen maternal mortality rates in the United States, especially for Black women. Currently, more than 23 out of every 100,000 women die while giving birth. For Black women, the number is 55 in 100,000. Why might the end of a federal abortion protection increase maternal mortality rates across the board, but especially for Black women?
3. Why doesn’t Davis believe the Ohio state government will step up to support women getting abortions? What is the situation like in your state? Is your state budget strapped due to budget cuts? Where would you start your research to find out the answer to that question?
4. Why does Davis state that a “six-week abortion ban is effectively a 100% abortion ban”? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Second video: Impact on domestic abuse victims
- Why does Professor Natalie Nanasi say domestic abuse is more about “power and control” than anger or the relationship?
- How does the overturning of Roe make it harder for pregnant, domestic violence victims to get an abortion? (Think about social workers trying to help these victims as well.)
- What is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women in America addressed in the video?
- Lori Gonzalez from Domestic Violence Intervention Services states that Oklahoma is 8th in the nation for women murdered by men. How might the Roe decision make homicide rates worse? Do you think most of the country is aware of the higher homicide rate of women because they are pregnant? Were you aware of these statistics?
Class activity: Cost of an abortion
- How much do you think an abortion procedure costs, on average? Discuss in small groups and have each group share with the class.
- Go to this website to see the actual costs. Note that the price varies by the method, the stage of pregnancy and the state. Note that some people will have forms of insurance that cover some or all of the costs. How does the cost compare to your estimates? Is this more or less than you expected?
- Davis discussed the possibility that women in states where abortion has become illegal, like Ohio, might travel to states where it remains legal, like Philadelphia, for the procedure. Imagine you are a woman in Ohio who works a job and has a child — you are pregnant and you would like to get an abortion in Pennsylvania. With your group, brainstorm the various costs that might be involved to obtain an abortion (money for gas, daycare, time off work, the abortion procedure, etc.). What is your total?
According to this article, only 30% of Americans in the bottom 20% of incomes — more than 50 million people — have a savings account. The average amount in these accounts is just $1,010. Consider also that the U.S. government estimates the costs of raising a child to the age of 17 at $233,000. When thinking about the cost of an abortion, what sort of financial impact would an unwanted pregnancy have on a low-income, single woman? Why do you think single Black women and women experiencing domestic violence are more likely to face even harsher challenges in the event they needed reproductive care, including an abortion?
- Use this interactive from the New York Times to understand how the end of Roe might impact your state.
- Also take a look at this feature from the Texas Tribune on how income can predict who will continue to have access to abortions and who will not.
This lesson was written by Leo Kamin and Evelyn Chi, sophomores at Amherst College and NewsHour Classroom interns, with editing by Vic Pasquantonio.