June 10, 2024

Reproductive Justice in the United States and Abroad

Maria Savel

Reproductive rights, access to abortion and other necessary healthcare has been under attack for 50 years in the United States, ever since the US Supreme Court ruled in 1973 in the Roe v. Wade case that abortion bans on the state level were unconstitutional. In June 2022, forced-birth advocates won their biggest victory yet with the Dobbs v. Jackson case. In the Dobbs case, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively taking away the constitutionally protected right to abortion in the US. 

In the two years since the devastating decision, 14 states have banned abortion, either through new legislation or through so-called “trigger laws” that reinstate the state’s abortion bans that existed before Roe v. Wade. An additional 11 states have passed, or are trying to pass, legislation that is considered hostile toward abortion rights, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.  

The issue of abortion rights is extremely important domestically as a feminist and healthcare issue, but also as a major electoral issue. Meanwhile, internationally, the fight for reproductive rights has seen major victories in places like Argentina and Mexico, but also major setbacks in El Salvador and Nicaragua. The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation – New York Office understands the outsized role the US has on global politics and how policies here can often shape policies around the world. Given the global feminist fight to protect and expand access to abortion, our office has been actively looking at the fights to preserve and expand abortion rights both in the US and abroad.

Shortly after the Dobbs decision, we published a study by Renee Bracey Sherman and Tracy Weitz, two reproductive justice activists and scholars, examining how we got to the current moment. This piece examines how calculated and strategic the right in the US has been in its fight to repeal Roe as well as the racist and capitalistic motivations behind these efforts. Already, it is poor Black and brown women feeling the immediate ramifications of the Dobbs decisions. Wealthy women are much more likely to be able to take time off work and travel to cross state lines to receive abortion care. This a privilege that many low-income women in states that have effectively banned abortion do not have

RLS-NYC also supported the abortion international issue of Lux Magazine, a socialist feminist magazine. We paid journalists, photographers and illustrators to report on the issues around abortion access and policy fights in El Salvador, Palestine, U.S. prisons, New York City, and Croatia. We are continuing to support Lux and their fall issue that will look at feminists’ fights against fascism, including reproductive justice as key element of fighting the far right. 

Going into the US Federal Elections this fall, reproductive rights are a major issue, along with Gaza and the climate crisis. There is a feeling among many progressives, especially young progressives, that Democrats – especially Biden – haven’t done enough to protect abortion rights in the US. While that is true, it is also true that a Trump presidency will only lead to even greater restrictions to a person’s access to abortion care. Once again, all eyes on the US as the world looks to see how the next presidency will affect reproductive justice.

Maria Savel is a project manager at RLS–NYC focusing on reproductive and gender justice, foreign policy and multilateralism.

Top photo: AP Photo/Ben Gray.