Missoula, MT - The Supreme Court issued a shameful ruling today, overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion. Today’s ruling will allow anti-abortion politicians to ban abortion in states across the country, forcing countless people to remain pregnant and have children against their will. The ruling in this case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could set off a chain reaction resulting in states banning abortion and criminalizing essential care throughout entire regions of the country.
In Montana, access to abortion will remain protected. In the case of Armstrong v. State of Montana, the Montana Supreme Court held that the State constitutional right to privacy broadly guarantees that each individual has the right to make medical judgments affecting her or his bodily integrity and health in partnership with a chosen health care provider, free from government interference. This constitutional right to privacy protects access to abortions.
The Supreme Court’s decision is an unprecedented attack on women’s rights and reproductive freedom, and the effects will be immediate and far-reaching. Half the states in the country are expected to ultimately ban abortion, denying the 36 million women and other people who can become pregnant in those states the fundamental right to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent. Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will has life-altering consequences, including enduring serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, derailing their education and career plans, and making it more difficult to leave an abusive partner. This decision could also lead to pregnancy losses being subject to suspicion, investigation, and arrest, and patients and doctors being thrown in jail.
Anti-abortion politicians have made it clear that they will not stop with Roe’s reversal and banning abortion state by state; extremists have made it clear that they will work to ban abortion nationwide. In the face of this unprecedented attack on the bodily autonomy of women and people who can become pregnant, the ACLU of Montana is working with partners to send a clear message to lawmakers that everything must be done to protect and expand access to abortion to ensure everyone can make their own decisions about their bodies and futures.
“Make no mistake, politicians won’t stop here. The same anti-abortion extremists seeking to control the bodies of pregnant people are coming for the right to access birth control and gender-affirming care, marry who we love, and vote,” said Alex Rate ACLU of Montana interim executive director. “Our fundamental rights are under attack like never before, but we have the power to fight back by holding politicians accountable through protesting in the streets, advocating in statehouses, and voting at the ballot box.”
Banning abortion will have an immediate and devastating impact on women, taking from them a right that has been central to their ability to plan their lives, families, and careers. But the burdens will disproportionately fall on women, communities of color, those struggling to make ends meet, young people, rural residents, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ communities. Today’s ruling will also have deadly consequences, with the harm falling hardest on Black women and other people of color who already face a severe maternal mortality crisis that is the worst in the same states that are determined to ban abortion. In fact, Black women are three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after. If abortion is banned nationwide, pregnancy-related deaths are estimated to increase by 21 percent nationwide, and 33 percent among Black women.
Abortion cannot truly be accessible unless everyone — in every corner of our country — is able to get the care they need in their own communities. The ACLU of Montana is dedicated to making that vision a reality by working with thousands of supporters across the state to make our voices heard in the streets, online, and at the ballot box until every person has the freedom to access the care they need without obstacles, shame, stigma, or harassment.