Rep. Annie Kuster: State control of abortion access has devastating consequences
In case you missed it, the Union Leader published an op-ed by Congresswoman Annie Kuster about the devastating SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the dangers that come with abortion bans. Congresswoman Kuster is continuing the fight to protect abortion access and the right to choose for every Granite Stater.
LAST MONTH, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned the near-50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade, taking away women’s right to abortion access and reproductive freedom. This decision not only ignores the complexity of pregnancy but also directly inserts the government into the most personal, private decisions of people’s lives. This misguided ruling sets a dangerous precedent in our country, that state governments and politicians can intrude into personal privacy and medical choices however and whenever they see fit.
The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has already had an immediate, detrimental impact on women and their well-being across the country. America was founded on the ideals of individual liberty and freedom — beliefs that are revered here in New Hampshire and define who we are as a nation. Yet, the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing states and extremist politicians to dictate what rights women have and what care doctors can provide flies in the face of our shared American values.
Leaving medical decisions up to state governments creates a landscape of inconsistent and prohibitive legislation that infringes on women’s right to privacy and their health care. In Ohio, a 10-year-old rape victim was refused abortion care because she was six weeks and three days pregnant. The state had a “trigger ban” that went into effect as soon as the court overturned Roe v. Wade, prohibiting doctors from performing any form of abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The child was forced to travel out of state to get an abortion.
Across the country, women who have ectopic or other high-risk pregnancies — including wanted and planned pregnancies — now have to consider individual states’ laws on abortion access and whether their doctors will be able to provide life-saving care. Without the protections of Roe, doctors are now forced to question whether they can legally provide care for their patients, or if in doing so they will violate the law and face criminal penalties. This can be true whether they are treating minors, victims of rape, assault, or incest, or if they are treating a miscarriage or life-threatening pregnancy.
Almost half the states, led by radical conservative politicians, have either already implemented bans on abortion or have severely restricted access to abortion care, further jeopardizing the well-being of women and prohibiting medical professionals from providing adequate reproductive health care in a country with the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation in the world.
Some Republican state legislators are going as far as to try to prohibit women from leaving their state to seek abortion care — effectively forcing women to carry an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy to term.
While abortion remains legal and accessible here in New Hampshire before 24 weeks, the Supreme Court’s ruling opens the door for the Republican-led state Legislature to ban abortion, something the conservative majority has already signaled they are ready and willing to do.
Women’s health, privacy, and bodily autonomy is at risk right here in New Hampshire.
Before I was elected to Congress in 2012, I served as an adoption attorney for 25 years. I worked with hundreds of birth mothers as they made the most personal, consequential decisions of their lives — not one of those women looked to the government to make their decision for them.
Something as fundamental and private as reproductive health and freedom cannot be left to the political whim of state legislators or politicians. In the U.S. House of Representatives, we passed federal protections for abortion access and legislation establishing the right to reproductive freedom to stop this over-stepping of government power. Sadly, Congressional Republicans opposed these efforts, and in the Senate, they blocked these protections altogether.
We will not give up our liberty or our freedom. I will continue fighting to protect abortion access and the rights of every Granite Stater.
Read the full op-ed here.