A year after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization stripped women of nearly 50 years of constitutional protection to make their own health-care decisions, women have faced trauma and near-death experiences and been deprived of medical care. That includes women who never contemplated having an abortion. The Dobbs-aggravated shortage of doctors practicing obstetrics-gynecology, especially in rural areas, leaves millions of women without access to health care.

A recent KFF survey of 569 OB/GYNs underscores the health-care crisis Dobbs has wrought. Twenty percent of respondents “report they have personally felt constraints on their ability to provide care for miscarriages and other pregnancy-related medical emergencies since the Dobbs decision.” Forty-four percent of doctors “and six in ten practicing in states where abortion is banned or where there are gestational limits, say their decision-making autonomy has become worse since the Dobbs ruling.” And 36 percent nationally “say their ability to practice within the standard of care has become worse.”

And here’s the worst of it: “Most OBGYNs (68%) say the ruling has worsened their ability to manage pregnancy-related emergencies. Large shares also believe that the Dobbs decision has worsened pregnancy-related mortality (64%), racial and ethnic inequities in maternal health (70%) and the ability to attract new OBGYNs to the field (55%).”

And if advocates of forced birth thought they were creating a baby boom, they may have miscalculated. More than half of OB/GYNs nationally report that women are seeking contraception in greater numbers, especially through sterilization (43 percent) and IUDs and implants (47 percent). In short, women are making decisions that may preclude them from ever getting pregnant because they fear being trapped by forced-birth laws.

Given those findings and the trail of horror stories about women denied proper care, it’s no surprise that support for Roe v. Wade has never been higher. A recent NBC News poll found that 6 in 10 voters oppose the court’s action, including “nearly 80% of female voters ages 18-49, two-thirds of suburban women, 60% of independents and even a third of Republican voters.” Young voters are especially shaken by the decision. Nearly 75 percent of college students say their decision to stay at their college is at least somewhat affected by abortion laws, according to a Lumina Foundation-Gallup poll.

The New York Times reported on the shift in public opinion:

For the first time, a majority of Americans say abortion is ‘morally acceptable.’ Most now believe abortion laws are too strict. They are significantly more likely to identify, in the language of polls, as ‘pro-choice’ over ‘pro-life,’ for the first time in two decades. … While Republicans and those identifying as ‘pro-life’ have historically been most likely to see abortion as a litmus test, now they are less motivated by it, while Democrats and those identifying as “pro-choice” are far more so. …

[And] there were sudden and significant jumps in support for legalized abortion post-Dobbs among some groups, including Republican men and Black Protestants.

It’s not just polls that reveal the shift. In the 2022 midterms, numerous Democrats in swing seats leaned into the abortion issue and won. And a pro-choice judge notched a double-digit win in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race in April. Ballot propositions protecting abortion rights have won in all contests since Dobbs. At a time when Republicans are struggling to hold on to women and suburban voters, the abortion issue may substantially affect voting patterns for years to come.

House Democrats’ Pro-Choice Caucus and every House Democratic leader, including former speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), held a news conference Friday highlighting their effort to force an up-or-down vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act that would enshrine Roe in federal law. Democrats, who have 210 votes from their side for the discharge petition, challenged Republicans to come up with the eight additional votes needed to force a vote. Calling Dobbs part of the “Supreme Court hall of shame,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) excoriated the court, saying it had “restricted and limited and undermined freedom for women all across America.” A number of Democrats spoke passionately about the suffering inflicted on women by what they called a “corrupt” Supreme Court filled with “right-wing co-conspirators.”

Friday’s speakers decried the assault on personal “freedom,” a value Democrats appear more than ready to embrace as Republicans ban abortions, ban books and target the LGBTQ+ community. Women’s suffering and humiliation are motivating Democrats to accuse Republicans of turning women into second-class citizens. For years, many Democrats avoided even using the word “abortion”; now, they’re putting abortion in the larger context of freedom, dignity and self-determination.

In North Carolina on Saturday, Vice President Harris delivered a stirring speech, stressing that “extremist Republicans in Congress have proposed to ban abortion nationwide. Nationwide. But I have news for them: We’re not having that.” She added: “The majority of Americans, I do believe, agree that one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body.”

Moreover, Democrats leave little doubt they will put abortion front and center in 2024. On Friday, Pelosi vowed, “It played a big role in the last election. It will be even bigger in the next election.” Democrats clearly recognize that abortion access unites Democrats, independents and many Republicans. Harris, pointing out that 23 million women live in states with “extreme” abortion bans, declared on Saturday, “All of us are now called upon to advance the promise of freedom.”

I spoke to House Democratic Whip Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) in her Capitol Hill office on Friday. She said Dobbs “shocked but did not surprise” her because she had held out some small hope that the court would reconsider in the wake of the national outcry last year after Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s draft opinion leaked. The sort of GOP “extremism we are seeing,” she said, “is so out of step with their constituents.” Citing Republicans’ votes against birth control access (only eight House Republicans voted last year to support a bill to protect contraception) and against maternal care and parental leave, as well as GOP efforts to ban an FDA-approved drug used for not only abortion but also treatment after miscarriage, she sees a unified effort to “bludgeon” women and deny them health care.

Clark is incensed by the intrusion of courts and politicians into women’s “fundamental right to make their own decisions” about the most personal matters imaginable. “This is just a move to make women second-class citizens,” she declared. Do Democrats have the wherewithal to sustain the fight over years if need be? With a look of defiance, she insisted, “This is part of my mission. We are not shying away from this issue.”

Millions of women, and men, pray she is right.


Original story HERE.