Viewpoint: Roevember is coming for women

Viewpoint: Roevember is coming for women
Karen Rubin, Columnist


A total of 64,565 victims of rape and/or incest were forced to give birth in the 14 states with abortion bans – that’s out of 519,981 actual victims of rape or incest – in just the four to 18 months since those states, seizing on the radical Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, overturned women’s reproductive rights and instituted the bans.

Instantly, women have been rendered less than full citizens, sentient adults, without the “equal protection” under the Constitution to make decisions to save their own lives, obtain health care, have bodily autonomy, human dignity, or the right to privacy and the ability to determine their own future that men have. And if those states have their way, pregnancy will be akin to a prison term without the ability to travel out of state.

The figures come from a study by medical researchers, Drs. Samuel L. Dickman, Kari White and David U. Himmelstein, published in JAMA Internal Medicine: “Although five of these states allow exceptions for rape-related pregnancies, stringent gestational duration limits apply and survivors must report the rape to law enforcement, a requirement likely to disqualify most survivors of rape, of whom only 21% report their rape to police.” Of the 64,565 rape-pregnancies, an estimated 5,586 (9%) occurred in states with rape exceptions, and 58, 979 (91%) were in states with no rape exception – 26 313 (45%) in Texas, alone. (

On what should have been the 51st anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and women’s Rights advocates were educating Americans on the disastrous consequences of the Dobbs decision on real people – women bleeding to death in their cars in the hospital parking lot having been refused care for a miscarriage; a 12-year-old having to flee to another state to abort a fetus after she was raped; a Texas woman, having been denied an abortion by its Supreme Court, having to escape to another state to save her own life if not her ability to have children in the future.

One out of four pregnancies result in miscarriage, but instead of getting care, women in the depths of heartbreak must fear being prosecuted for infanticide.

The Dobbs decision effectively has divided the United States into slave and free states, but while the ruling ostensibly gave states the right to deny women their reproductive rights or even their right to life, in actuality, extremists in state government and on courts are moving to ban reproductive health care nationwide. Texas Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk unilaterally overturned the FDA’s 20-year-old approval of mifepristone used in half of all abortions, which would restrict medication abortion nationwide.  The Supreme Court will hear the case March 26.

As was warned and feared: U.S. maternal mortality, already among the worst in the industrialized world, is rising and especially high in states with abortion bans; infant mortality, which had been going down, has risen over the past two years, a disgrace in the richest, “most advanced” nation in the world. Those states that have the most Draconian abortion bans happen also to be the worst for access to pre- and post-natal health care – even refusing the federal Medicaid expansion of post-partum care from 60 days to one year, even pulling back on funding for food stamps and children’s school lunch programs.

Is that pro-life? Or is that controlling, disenfranchising, disempowering and bankrupting women (it costs $20,000-30,000 to have a baby, not counting the expense of caring for a baby, let alone one that might be severely disabled)? Cruelty is the feature.

Biden convened the fourth meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access he established with doctors who reported on their quandary: providing the care under their Hippocratic Oath to protect patients vs. protecting themselves from prosecution that could result in the loss of their medical license. Add legal costs and fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even life in prison, with the result doctors are fleeing states, clinics are closing and millions of women are left without access to obstetrics care.

“I said on that day that Roe was overturned, the health and lives of women in this nation would now be at risk.  And that has unfortunately proven to be true,” Biden said recently. “That cruel reality is the result of extreme Republicans who, for years, have made it their mission to end the Roe v. Wade decision.”

And Vice President Harris launched a nationwide Fight for Reproductive Freedoms tour declaring “these extremists want to roll back the clock to a time before women were treated as full citizens.”

The Constitution doesn’t say women are free in some states but not others, or depending on zipcode or who happens to be in political power. In fact, state abortion bans violate Article 4, the Privileges and Immunities clause of the Constitution, that says a citizen of any state is entitled to the same rights as a citizen in any other state. Abortion bans also violate the 4th Amendment (prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure and setting requirements for search warrants based on probable cause).

The 5th protects the right to due process and prohibits self-incrimination, so Trump can plead the 5th 400 times to avoid self-incrimination, but a woman is barred from saving her own life; the 8th against cruel and unusual punishment, like forcing a woman to suffer the pain and emotional damage of carrying a dead fetus to term; the 13th against involuntary servitude; and the 14th equal protection under law, which is violated by denying women’s reproductive rights and stealing their equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Biden-Harris can only do so much. We need a Democratic Congress to codify Roe and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, first introduced in June 2021. And ratify the Equal Rights Amendment so protections are permanent..

For women, November 2024 is Roevember. But voters in NY-03 don’t have to wait for November to stand for women’s reproductive freedom. They can elect Democrat Tom Suozzi in the special election for Congress on Feb. 13 (early voting Feb 3-11).

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