© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Overturning Roe v. Wade could restrict more than abortion, according to experts


Overturning Roe v. Wade could have implications for more than access to abortion. Medical and legal experts say it could open the door to restrictions on other types of reproductive health care, as NPR's Sarah McCammon reports.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: The leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade has fueled speculation and concern about what could come next and what else Republican-controlled states might try to restrict. Dr. Kavita Arora is an OB-GYN in North Carolina.

KAVITA ARORA: To say that we are incredibly concerned would, I think, actually be putting it mildly.

MCCAMMON: Arora is chair of the ethics committee at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She says the decision could have far-reaching implications for other types of care, including birth control, emergency contraception known as Plan B, trans-affirming care, and fertility treatments such as IVF, which can produce leftover embryos.

ARORA: This threatens our ability to take care of patients on a daily basis.

MCCAMMON: Most types of contraception prevent a sperm from fertilizing an egg. But as a second line of defense, Arora says, some can stop an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, which is considered the beginning of a pregnancy.

ARORA: But in changing the definition of when pregnancy starts to just at fertilization, it would compromise our ability to provide access to really highly effective methods of contraception, such as the copper IUD.

MCCAMMON: Kristan Hawkins is president of the anti-abortion rights group Students for Life of America, which is pushing for state and federal legislation to recognize human life as beginning, quote, "at conception." Her group takes the position that some types of birth control are, quote, "mislabeled as contraception," a view at odds with the medical consensus.

KRISTAN HAWKINS: I think legislators should be able to have the right to decide and to investigate if there are devices, if there's chemicals that are ending the lives of their citizens in their state.

MCCAMMON: Last week, a Louisiana state lawmaker proposed a bill that would classify abortion as a homicide, beginning at the moment of fertilization. On CNN's "State Of The Union" on Sunday, host Jake Tapper asked Mississippi's Republican Governor Tate Reeves about the bill in his neighboring state. Reeves declined to rule out support for similar legislation.


JACK TAPPER: Just to be clear, you have no intention of seeking to ban IUDs or Plan B?

TATE REVEES: That is not what we are focused on at this time. We're focused on looking at - see what the court allows for.

MCCAMMON: Under Roe, the right to an abortion is guaranteed under the right to privacy. That's also part of the rationale for the Griswold v. Connecticut decision in 1965, which recognized a right to contraception for married people and eventually everyone else.

In his draft opinion, Justice Samuel Alito argued that abortion is different from other rights, like contraception in marriage because he said it destroys fetal life. But Khiara M. Bridges, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says Alito's originalist view of the Constitution offers no guarantees that women's rights will be protected.

KHIARA M BRIDGES: Because women were not part of the body politic, the rights that are important to people who can get pregnant are just not contemplated by the Constitution. The drafters of the Constitution could care less about what women's concerns were, what they needed in order to be fully human in society.

MCCAMMON: Bridges says if the court is willing to do away with longstanding precedent like Roe, it's impossible to predict what other rights could also be in question.

Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF TYCHO'S "SOURCE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.