On May 2, the U.S. Supreme Court leaked an initial draft of a majority decision written by Justice Samuel Alito overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion access.
The decision — which is not final until it is officially published by the Court, most likely within the next two months — means that abortion will no longer be recognized as a constitutional right in the United States.
In order to keep abortion legal, individual states will need pass legislation that protect abortion access at the state level.
In total, the Guttermacher Institute reports that 26 states are “certain or likely” to ban abortion outright in the absence of Roe. After the decision is finalized, Ohio and 8 other states will revert to pre-Roe abortion restrictions that are currently unconstitutional and blocked by courts.
But abortion advocates and providers across the state say those restrictions will set in motion disastrous health outcomes for LGBTQ+ Ohioans — particularly among trans people and LGBTQ+ people of color.
Why is abortion access an LGBTQ+ issue?
Like straight and cisgender people, any LGBTQ+ person who is able to get pregnant may experience an unwanted or life-threatening pregnancy. Therefore, many LGBTQ+ people will want or need access to abortion care during their lifetimes
“It’s not only women who get abortions,” says Aileen Day, communications manager for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.
“That’s why it’s incredibly important that we’re using gender neutral and gender inclusive language,” she says. “Because if we’re not even including people in our language, then we’re not including them in our care.”
LGBTQ+ face serious barriers when it comes to abortion access
For LGBTQ+ people, abortion is not only medically necessary care, but a fundamental part of upholding their sexual and bodily autonomy.
Because LGBTQ+ Americans experience poverty, homelessness, sexual assault, substance abuse and medical harassment and discrimination at disproportionately high rates, they are often more likely to need access to abortion services than their straight or cisgender peers.
More than 21% of LGBTQ+ live in poverty, and are less likely to have access to health insurance coverage, reliable transportation, and regular checkups with a primary care physician.
More than 15% of LGBTQ+ people — and 28% of transgender people — said they delayed seeking care of fear of harassment and discrimination at the hands of healthcare providers.
From accounts of misgendering to physical assault by healthcare professionals, those fears are not unfounded.
On top of high costs and high personal risk, healthcare professionals are often not knowledgeable enough to treat LGBTQ+ people, widening the gap in access and communication even further.
‘The impact [on LGBTQ+ Ohioans] will be devastating’
LGBTQ+ people already face complicated barriers to abortion access, and further limiting their resources and options when it comes to their own reproductive health will have awful consequences.
LGBTQ+ people may be forced to carry dangerous or unwanted pregnancies to term without their consent, or face thousands of dollars in costs traveling to access legal abortion care in another state or taking time off work to recover.
Even more alarming, Day says people who are already socially, medically and economically vulnerable will bear the brunt of the bill’s enforcement.
“When abortion becomes illegal here in Ohio, it’s probably going to become incredibly criminalized,” Day says. “We know that it’s not going to be a wealthy white people who are going to be punished for having illegal abortions. It’s going to be people of color. It’s going to be trans folks. It’s going to be people who already face incredible barriers to get that care in the first place.”
Abortion is still legal in Ohio. But what happens next?
As of May 10, 2022, both surgical and medical abortions are still legal in Ohio — and Day says Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates and providers are fighting hard to keep it that way.
“Overturning Roe is a human rights crisis and itself,” Day says. “And we know that they’re not going to stop at Roe.”
Day says the bill’s language could indicate a decision overturning Obergefell v. Hodges — which legalized same-sex marriage — or Lawrence v. Texas, which legalized queer sexual activity between consenting adults across Texas in 2003.
In the coming weeks, Day says abortion advocates and providers across the country plan to fight for abortion access for all people.
“We’re in the fight for bodily autonomy,” she says. “And that includes the queer community.”
- Medical and surgical abortions are legal in the state of Ohio up to 20 weeks gestation. For a list of Ohio clinics that provide abortions, click here.
- If you are an LGBTQ+ person experiencing a mental health crisis, call the Trevor Project’s 24/7 toll-free hotline at (866) 488-7386.
- If you need help paying for an abortion, please visit Women Have Options (WHO/O), Ohio’s statewide abortion fund.
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