USA – Open Letter from National Advocates for Pregnant Women

Dear Friends and Allies,

As you likely know, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, a law explicitly designed to challenge Roe v. Wade. The state of Mississippi is not only defending the state’s 15-week ban, it is asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe altogether. Mississippi is arguing that states, in the interest of “protecting unborn life,” women’s health, and the medical profession’s integrity; should be allowed to outlaw all abortions. The Supreme Court now stands at the precipice of overturning Roe, and with it, nearly 50 years of precedent.

NAPW knows that Roe v. Wade has benefitted all people with the capacity for pregnancy, not just those who seek abortions. That decision not only protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy but also, as later Supreme Court cases explained, has been relied upon to counter attempts to interfere with a woman’s decision to become pregnant or to carry her pregnancy to term. If Roe is overturned or substantially limited, and we expect that it will be, it’s not just people who seek abortions who will be harmed. Even with Roe on the books, we see police, prosecutors, and judges misusing their power to criminalize pregnancy and all of its possible outcomes – including pregnancy loss, birth, and abortion. Without Roe’s protections, any person with the capacity for pregnancy could be subject to surveillance, arrest, prosecution or other punitive state action at the discretion of a local prosecutor, child protection worker, or doctor.

As we ready ourselves for the Dobbs case and all that is at stake, we continue to defend women facing unprecedented expansions of state law from Alabama to Arizona. Just yesterday, we were in state court in Alabama, fighting to dismiss the charges in the case of our client, Kim Blalock, who struggled with chronic pain while pregnant. The prosecutor is arguing that filling a valid prescription for needed pain medication while pregnant can constitute unlawful possession of a drug by fraud. One of Ms. Blalock’s doctors is now claiming that he didn’t know she was pregnant. He also is now claiming that if he had known, he would, contrary to best medical and ethical standards, use the fact that she was pregnant as a basis for ending her pain medication. We believe this is the first case of its kind in the country and marks yet another attempt by a prosecutor to radically expand an existing criminal law to police and penalize pregnant patients.

The attacks on our rights are relentless but NAPW remains steadfast in our mission.

SOURCE: Lynn M Paltrow, Founder and Executive Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, E-newsletter, 11 August 2021 ; NAPW VISUAL