This year, on the cusp of the Fourth of July, many Americans were shocked to learn that some of their freedoms had been scaled back by the Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center. The Dobbs case overturned the landmark case of Roe v. Wade and eviscerated any constitutional right to abortion.
While the full implications of the Dobbs decision are not yet known, we have clearly entered a new era for reproductive rights – an era in which women’s reproductive healthcare is subject to more government regulation than it has been in nearly 50 years.
The Dobbs decision is also ringing alarm bells for other rights, including the right to contraception and the right to same-sex marriage, among others. We now have a Court willing to overturn longstanding precedent and take away rights that many Americans have come to rely on.
What does the Dobbs decision mean for you and your family?
The options for terminating a pregnancy – both for elective and nonelective reasons – now varies widely among states. In New York, we can be fairly confident that abortion rights will continue to be protected at the state level – at least for the foreseeable future. However, traveling out of state during a pregnancy may carry risks. If a pregnancy must be terminated out of concern for the mother’s health, options may be limited if you find yourself in another state when complications arise. Even in New York, the demand for abortion services and care for high-risk pregnancies may be stretched thin as demand increases due to demand from other states. IVF services may also be at risk as a result of laws protecting the rights of embryos.
The legal reasoning the Court applied in Dobbs can easily be applied to eliminate other rights, including the rights of same sex couples to marry and have children. We can expect legal challenges to these precedents in the coming years.
What can you do to protect yourself and your family?
If you are pregnant be wary of travelling to states where your healthcare decisions may be limited or doctors may be hesitant to perform necessary procedures. This is especially true if you have a high-risk pregnancy. In countries with restrictive abortion laws, women have died of complications because they were denied essential medical care.
If you have an LGBTQ family or relationship, make sure that your wishes are documented in a healthcare proxy and power of attorney in case something happens to you when you’re in another state. If you have a child through sperm or egg donation, secure your parental rights through a second parent adoption – even if you are listed as the parent on the child’s birth certificate.
The newly-constituted Supreme Court does not bode well for our rights in the coming years, or even in the coming decades. Unless and until things turn around, it is wise to take extra precautions. If you would like help protecting your family, contact us to schedule a consultation.