An Open Letter to District Residents: Now is the time for action on abortion rights
Dear DC residents:
Many of you may be fearful and angry right now at the future of reproductive rights in our country.
You’ve probably read a Politico piece from Monday night leaking a draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Many of us knew the outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the case currently before the Court about abortion rights — could have life altering impacts for women and patients across the country. But the leaked opinion represents a worst case-scenario. It would mean states could ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
For now, this draft opinion is not law.
Residents of the District have consistently made clear that they value reproductive rights. As a result, we have strong patient-centered laws enabling residents and visitors to make their own reproductive health decisions that support their health and safety.
But for so many across the country, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the situation would be very different. It would further and more clearly sever the Unites States into two Americas — one where patients can access reproductive care and one where they can’t.
Map: 23 states would ban abortion in a post-Roe America
If the Supreme Court rolls back the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling, as reported Monday night in a leaked…
We also know vulnerable, low-income patients — especially Black and brown women, girls, and pregnant people — are particularly at risk of losing access. Overturning Roe v. Wade would drastically exacerbate racial inequities that already exist and harm vulnerable patients.
“When it comes to the effect on minorities, the numbers are unambiguous. In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44 percent of the population but 81 percent of women receiving abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health statistics.
“In Texas, they’re 59 percent of the population and 74 percent of those receiving abortions. The numbers in Alabama are 35 percent and 69 percent. In Louisiana, minorities represent 42 percent of the population, according to the state Health Department, and about 72 percent of those receiving abortions.”
Overturning Roe would take away the rights and invade the personal autonomy of so many Americans across the country — moving us backward from 50 years of women’s social and economic advancement.
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In a leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito argued that pregnant…
On top of all of this, we know the fragility of access in the District. Depending on who is in Congress and the White House, the federal government could use our lack of statehood to change our laws. This decision means that a federal government without respect for the will of District residents could ban abortion in the District altogether.
To sum it up, abortion isn’t just a health care issue. It’s a racial justice issue. It’s an economic issue. And it’s a self-determination issue.
In DC, we know how to stand up for our rights. We’ve been doing it for generations. Here are some actions you can take now:
· Spread the word — Abortion is legal in the District and it will remain legal regardless of what the Court does. That’s good for our residents and those from other states who can come here to get the health services they need.
· Support organizations doing critical work to help patients in states with restrictive laws access abortion care. There are many organizations doing critical work to help those who need assistance paying for or traveling out of state for abortion services — which would be a critical way for care to continue if Roe v. Wade is overturned. A few of the organizations doing this important work are:
DC Abortion Fund — Our local fund serving the District, Maryland, and Virginia and patients coming to our area for abortion care.
National Network of Abortion Funds — Other funds are at work in parts of the country that would be hardest hit by ending the federal right to abortion care. This list shows where to get help in each state.
National Abortion Federation — This organization runs a nationwide hotline, assisting callers from across the country who need referrals or funding for abortion care, including travel-related expenses.
The Brigid Alliance — This group arranges and pays for travel for people who must leave their home states for abortion services.
· Ask your friends and family outside the District to call their members of Congress and their local legislators. Tell them to pass reproductive rights protections and support DC statehood. Congressional elections and legislative action at the state and federal levels are critical to our fundamental rights.
· Join a peaceful protest. There will likely be many peaceful protests occurring on reproductive access. Make sure you stay safe while having your voice heard.
· Call on your employers and businesses to fill the gap where government has failed by allocating resources and putting in place strong reproductive rights policies for their employees.
At the Office of the Attorney General, we will use every tool at our disposal to protect the right to safe, legal abortion. That includes enforcing the District’s laws, like the Human Rights Act and the Bias-Related Crimes Act which my office handles. These laws provide civil legal protections for people seeking abortion and those providing that care. We will continue to stand up for and protect clinics that provide abortion care from those who seek to illegally interfere with access to care. Any clinics or patients facing threats or intimidation should contact our office at OAGCivilRights@dc.gov.
The fight for reproductive rights and gender equality is not over. Now is the time to have our voices heard here at home and across the country as we stand up for our fundamental rights.