Not to state the obvious, but 2022 was an undeniably terrible year for abortion rights. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, blowing up more than 50 years of precedent protecting the constitutional right to abortion.
Things weren’t exactly great before the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, especially for Black pregnant people in the south. But the decision made a bad situation much much worse, as anti-abortion states wasted little time passing a series of draconian abortion bans.
Horrific stories out of states like Texas and Georgia emerged of pregnant people fighting for their lives. And advocates, attorneys and health care professionals shouted their concerns that criminalization and deaths of pregnant people, and Black pregnant people in particular, would inevitably rise as a result of the decision.
But just because things have been bleak doesn’t mean there weren’t some victories this year. States introduced more than 230 bills protecting and expanding protections for abortion in 2022, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Of the bills protecting abortion, legislators enacted 42 of them.
According to their report, these newly enacted laws included bills enshrining the right to abortion, expanding insurance coverage for abortion procedures, protecting folks who travel to get abortions from other states, and allowing a greater range of medical practitioners to perform abortion care.
Ballot measures protecting reproductive freedoms were also popular this year. During the midterm elections, abortion rights supporters won every single ballot initiative, pulling out wins for pro-abortion rights measures in California, Michigan, and Vermont.
Even before the midterms, Kansas voters surprised the nation by overwhelmingly voting to reject a ballot measure removing abortion from the state constitution.
This is somewhat of an aside, but on the world stage, a group of Black and Indigenous reproductive justice advocates brought international attention to the human rights violations of abortion bans at the United Nations. And, the UN Committee on The Elimination of Racism later condemned the US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe as a form of racist discrimination.
I’m focusing on some of the positives for the reproductive justice movement, but obviously there were a lot of negatives. In 2022, states introduced more than 430 bills restricting abortion access, including bills that banned abortion pre-viability, funded crisis pregnancy centers, and restricted access to abortion medications.
These attacks aren’t new. Reproductive justice advocates have been on the ground fighting these restrictions for decades. But as the new year approaches, it seems clear that the fight will continue to rage onward, with the states being the central battleground.