Threats to choice in the US

A pair of recent federal court cases are endangering the right to abortion in the United States.

In Tennessee, a federal appeals court reinstated a 48-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion. The 2015 law requires that women make two trips to the abortion clinic – first for mandatory counselling, and then for the abortion itself.

Clinic directors told the court that the law created delays of far more than 48 hours. The delay even prevented some women from accessing abortion care at all, forcing them to carry a pregnancy they did not want.

A judge had previously ruled that the law served no legitimate purpose and placed a substantial burden on women seeking abortion—but this month, an appeals court ruling put the law back into effect. Clients in clinic waiting rooms were abruptly sent home, prevented from getting the care they needed.

Photo: John DiJulio

Meanwhile, in Ohio, another federal appeals court lifted the hold on a law banning abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome. Under the law, which is now in effect, doctors could face felony charges and be stripped of their medical license if they know that a Down’s Syndrome diagnosis is influencing a woman’s decision to have an abortion.

The case is likely to advance to the Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority.

At MSI, we believe that every woman has the right to control her own body and decide her own future. Our clients often have few options for reproductive healthcare, and they tell us how unintended pregnancies can derail their dreams for themselves and their families. In countries with restrictive laws, we see how women are denied access to abortion, and are driven to dangerous unsafe options as a result.

Rather than forcing women to wait for care or judging their reasons for wanting abortion, we should focus on making sure that every woman can make the best decision for her needs. We’ll keep working to make choice a reality around the world, and we stand in solidarity with activists fighting for choice here in the United States.

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