Editor's Note, March 2022

Written by Marian Starkey, Vice President for Communications | Published: March 21, 2022

The right to abortion across the United States is likely in its final season, after a half-century of being established precedent. In June of this year, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that could overturn Roe v. Wade or degrade it to the point that it might as well be overturned.

In 2007, my friend and coworker Stacie Murphy (author of “In the News” and “Washington View”) introduced me to clinic escorting in the Washington, DC, area. I escorted patients at a clinic in Falls Church, Virginia, for four years before moving to Maine, where I immediately signed on to escort patients at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland. In my 15 years of volunteering in this role, I never thought abortion rights at the national level would be threatened with total obliteration. I knew that anti-abortion extremists would always exist and that they would never stop trying to enact TRAP[1] laws at the state level or to deter patients approaching clinics from going inside for their appointments. I just didn’t think we’d ever have a Supreme Court that had become so politicized that it would strip a fundamental human right from Americans that had been in place for nearly 50 years.

Of course, if Roe is overturned, many states will protect the right to abortion. But 26 states are poised to make it illegal or nearly impossible to get an abortion, just as Texas has already done with SB 8, the 6-week ban that’s been in place since September 1, 2021. As you’ll read in “The End of Roe?” which begins on page 16, the lone remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi at the center of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sees patients from Texas who have to travel out of state for their procedures because they’ve passed the 6-week gestational limit for an abortion in their own state.

While countries around the world (e.g. Argentina, Benin, Colombia, Ireland, Mexico, Thailand) are decriminalizing abortion and expanding the circumstances under which the procedure is legal, affirming the right to bodily autonomy, the United States is going backward and removing that right.

A former member of Population Connection’s Board of Directors, Sacheen Carr-Ellis, MD, is the Medical Director at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. She generously gave her time during a hellish period of uncertainty for her clinic and spoke with our Senior Communications Fellow, Alex Casey. “The End of Roe?” is about that conversation and Dr. Carr-Ellis’s disbelief over the near-certain devastating decision the Supreme Court will issue in June.

Our other feature article covers the rising trend of men getting vasectomies in order to be more active in family planning with their partners and to take a stand against threats to women’s reproductive rights—namely, the abortion bans that have been sweeping the nation in recent years. One doctor profiled in the article, Doug Stein, aka the “Vasectomy King,” first got involved in vasectomy provision because of his concerns around population growth. He has a clinic in Florida and has performed vasectomies around the world, training many urologists in his no-scalpel technique along the way.

Eight in 10 Americans believe abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances, according to a 2021 Gallup poll, and yet here we find ourselves, facing the most ominous challenge to reproductive rights since 1973. We are not optimistic about a favorable decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but we’ll never give up the fight for free and unfettered access to reproductive freedom for everyone, everywhere.

[1]  Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers