If SCOTUS Restricts Abortion Access, Marginalized People Will Be Hurt Most

We speak to Alexis McGill Johnson (President and CEO). CEOThe Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information about Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing. In which the conservative majority seemed to indicate they support upholding the restrictive Mississippi law banning abortion beginning at 15 weeks of pregnancy and potentially overturning it, the Supreme Court hearing was discussed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Roe v. Wade. Justice Amy Comey Barrett suggested, during questioning, that giving up children to adoption would solve the pro-choice argument about anti-abortion legislations forcing women into motherhood. “Our very right to determine when and if we become pregnant, our self determination, is predicated on our ability to be seen as free and equal citizens in this country,” says Johnson. She says if the ban is upheld, the people most impacted will be “low-income, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, people who are trans and nonbinary, people who might not have support at home.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN:This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman with Nermeen Sheikh as we look at how the Supreme Court appears set to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in a move that could either radically reduce abortion access in much of the country or overturn Roe v. Wade entirely. Alexis McGill Johnson, President of the United States, is now joining this discussion. CEOof the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF). Thank you for returning to our site. Democracy Now!, Alexis. When Amy Coney Barrett talked about women should not be forced to be mothers—after all, they could give up the children after the infant was born— can you comment on this new Handmaid’s Tale version of America?

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON:First, it is good that you are here today. Justice Amy Coney Barrett talking about adoption or safe haven being the solution to abortion rather than just another outcome of pregnancy was something that I thought was undermining. It was offensive. Julie Rikelman was insistently arguing in court today that equality and liberty are predicated on our freedom to choose when and how we become pregnant. Justice Barrett’s decision was shocking and alarming.

NERMEEN SHAIKH:Could you tell us who you think would be most affected by this? Who are the women most likely to have abortions in America? Professor Watson said that 75% of them were low-income.

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely. Look, we’re seeing this actually play out right now in Texas, the impact that we are seeing on our patients, on patients of independent providers who have to flee the state in order to gain access to this constitutional right. They’re going to be more likely to be low-income, Black, brown, Indigenous communities, people who are trans and non-binary, people who may not have support at home. The impact of what we’re saying, that if the court is so willing not only to ban abortions at 15 weeks but also as they seem poised to do, consider overturning 50 years of precedent, we could see 26 states move in this same vein. This would impact 36 million people. This would affect 36 million people. It is alarming to see the burden it would place on them to seek out services outside their state.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you explain how many—because what is at issue here is 15 weeks, how many abortions, what percentage do you know occur after 15 weeks?

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON:Most abortions occur within 20 weeks. A majority of abortions occur to parents who already have children and understand the implications for their lives. Yesterday’s court proceedings, especially by the Mississippi solicitor general, indicated that Mississippi wanted a world in which states could decide who is free and who not. This whole argument is about a state such as Mississippi, which has the highest maternal death rate, the highest infant mortality rate, and the lowest child health. These are the people who will be most affected. The majority of them, as I said, don’t happen after the 15 weeks.

AMY GOODMAN: Alexis McGill Johnson, as we wrap up, let’s look into the future here. We don’t exactly need a crystal ball but if essentially Roe v. Wade were so undermined or overturned by the Supreme Court, how these trigger laws in about half the states will impact abortion availability in the country? Planned Parenthood owns hundreds of clinics all over the country.

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. Planned Parenthood operates hundreds of clinics. These laws and trigger bans will also be in effect for independent providers who are located in the South or Midwest. As I said, Texas is experiencing a lot of hardship right now. People have to travel thousands to New Mexico, California, Oregon, New York and Vermont to access their future. People are being forced to move out of their state in order to get abortion access. It will also affect those who are least able to afford it.

AMY GOODMAN:Alexis McGill Johnson – We are so grateful for your support, president CEOof the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF).

Next up, we go to France where the American-born pioneering performer and civil rights icon Josephine Baker has been inducted into the Panthéon at the same time racism is on the rise in France and the far-right xenophobic writer Éric Zemmour, who many describe as a fascist, has launched a run for the presidency. Keep following us.