The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade through the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, 2022, dismantling the constitutional right to abortion that stood for nearly 50 years and paving the way for states to ban abortion care.
To date, abortion bans have eliminated the right to all or some abortions in 21 U.S. states. This means that millions of people — especially Black, Latine, Indigenous, and other people of color already harmed by an inequitable U.S. health care system — face even greater barriers to accessing essential care. Our health care provider partners have reported notable increases in patients traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to seek abortion care at their centers.
Residents of the District of Columbia face a unique peril. Because D.C. is not a state, District residents have no voting representation in Congress, which controls how District dollars are spent. Already, the Dornan Amendment prohibits D.C. from using locally-raised tax dollars to cover abortion care. Members of Congress — who do not represent Washingtonians — could also try to enact federal laws specifically to deny D.C. residents access to abortion care. Until D.C. gains statehood, its self-determination — including to protect reproductive rights — remains at risk.
Maryland and Virginia have shown how essential voting for pro-abortion rights candidates is in protecting access. Maryland’s General Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to abortion access in 2022 by passing the Abortion Care Access Act, and could next enshrine abortion rights in its state constitution, but nothing is guaranteed. Neighboring Virginia is currently the last remaining southern state without an abortion ban. There, anti-abortion rights legislators have repeatedly attempted to severely limit access, despite a large majority of Virginians supporting abortion rights.
The fight for abortion rights in all of PPADMV’s regions — DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia — is far from over. We must continue to take the fight to the streets, courts, and state houses to defend the rights of people seeking reproductive health care, especially abortion. We will fight to make sure everyone has the care they need to control their bodies and their futures.
Updated December 19, 2023