Skip to main content

Two Years of Outrage: US Abortion Restrictions since Dobbs

State Bans Violate Rights of Millions to Privacy, Health, Nondiscrimination

Protesters chant during the Women’s Wave National Day of Action for Reproductive Rights, Boston, Massachusetts, October 8, 2022. © 2022 Boston Globe via Getty Images

Two years ago today, the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization removed constitutional protection for access to abortion. The decision was an egregious regression of women’s rights and made the US one of only four countries to withdraw legal grounds for abortion over the past 30 years.

Since Dobbs, many countries have enacted policies that expand abortion access, continuing a global, decades-long trend. In 2023, the Mexican Supreme Court decriminalized abortion nationwide, and abortion is now legal in Mexico City and 12 out of 32 Mexican states. France enshrined the right to abortion in its constitution earlier this year.

Meanwhile, state courts in the US have upheld laws that have nearly killed pregnant women and have required women to carry non-viable fetuses to term. In Mississippi, abortion bans forced a 13-year-old girl to carry out a pregnancy from rape. Texas and Oklahoma have passed laws that empower private citizens to sue clinics, healthcare workers, and individuals for helping someone obtain an abortion, and lawmakers in Texas and Missouri have sought to make it illegal to obtain out-of-state abortions.

Currently, 14 of the 50 US states have criminalized nearly all abortions, depriving access to 18 million women and girls of reproductive age. Another 17 states have banned abortions starting at 6 to 26 weeks of pregnancy.

The bans have a disparate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, particularly those with low incomes. Over 60 percent of people seeking abortions are people of color, and many, including 60 percent of Black and American Indian and Alaskan Native women of reproductive age, reside in states with complete abortion bans. Black people have higher-risk pregnancies and are more likely to miscarry or have stillbirths than white pregnant people. Because many people of color who reside in restrictive states fall below the poverty line, leaving the state to obtain a legal abortion elsewhere is often impossible.

The Supreme Court’s revocation of national protections for abortion access, and the restrictive state laws that followed, means the United States is violating the rights to life, health, privacy, nondiscrimination, and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, among others.

Access to legal abortion is essential to achieve gender equality. Every year, more leaders, legislatures, and courts abroad understand this. US states should repeal restrictions on abortion, enshrine access to abortion in state constitutions, and advance the global trend of recognizing women’s autonomy.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Region / Country