Reflecting on the Past Year After Dobbs: We Must Share the Stories of Those Impacted
As we mark one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org decision, I am reflecting on the devastation that decision wreaked over this past year and the stories that keep us going.
Last year felt like both the fastest and the longest year in history. Across the country, pregnant people have been forced into dangerous, often impossible situations, as states enforce draconian abortion bans. The endless onslaught of anti-abortion legislators and extremists attacking abortion access has taken a toll on all of us.
So what has kept us going, through all of the devastation and loss of the last year, after decades of attacks on abortion? For me: I am motivated by the stories showing the impact of this public health crisis and the people brave enough to share them. We must tell the hard, painful stories of those devastated by this anti-abortion crisis. But we cannot do it alone.
We need those with the largest platforms to help us tell these stories.
Over the past year, administration officials like Vice President Kamala Harris and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra have done just that. These longstanding champions for abortion access have spent the last 365 days convening state lawmakers, advocates, and storytellers to learn about their experiences. They have dedicated their platforms to show the devastation of the Dobbs decision.
Their dedication has only increased as we marked one year since the Dobbs decision:
- On June 23, 2023, Secretary Becerra spoke in Fairview Heights, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri—alongside Director of the Office for Civil Rights Melanie Fontes Ranier, Admiral Rachel L. Levine, and Congresswoman Cori Bush—about the impact of Dobbs. In a statement published on June 24, Secretary Becerra described how, in the past year, people seeking abortion care have found themselves living in care deserts, with some patients having to “travel thousands of miles to access basic services.” Secretary Becerra reaffirmed HHS’s commitment to protect and expand access to reproductive care amid unprecedented efforts to restrict access to abortion and contraception.
- On June 24, the one-year anniversary of Dobbs, Vice President Harris gave a speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, describing the chaos, confusion, and fear that abortion bans have had on pregnant people across the country. This speech was the culmination of extraordinary efforts by the Vice President, who spent the past year traveling to states—including North Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida—to speak with legislators and advocates on the frontlines about how the abortion access crisis has impacted their respective state. Over the past year, Vice President Harris has met with more than 250 state legislators from 28 states to discuss their efforts to protect access to abortion following the onslaught of anti-abortion laws enacted since Dobbs.
In her speech in North Carolina, Vice President Harris made plain what this last year was about: “We’re talking about real people every day in our country—real people every day who are being subjected to judgment, being made to feel as though they should be silent. We can’t stand for that. We can’t tolerate that. It’s just not right.”
After the horrors experienced by pregnant people nationwide since Dobbs, one thing is for certain: Their stories matter, and we must continue telling them—in private conversations, at dinner tables, on the floors of state legislatures, and on national platforms. As Vice President Harris said to the North Carolina crowd: “But we cannot, in our nation, allow people to silently suffer without telling their stories in a way that hopefully understands the importance of uplifting their voices in support, and in love, and with a sense of empathy and agreement that they shouldn’t have to have those experiences.”
We know this fight to protect abortion access will not only take many years, but it will take all of us—from city hall and state legislatures, to abortion funds, to Presidents and Vice Presidents, to Congress, to you and me—to straighten our course to a world where abortion is accessible and available without stigma or shame. Use your platform, however small or large it may be, to help get us there.