Despite federal protections for abortion access, many states across the country have criminal laws that may criminalize women who end their own pregnancies or medical professionals who provide abortion. Some of these laws have been on the books for centuries, and could spring back into effect if Roe v. Wade were overturned or weakened; some are currently enforced; and some are newly introduced by anti-abortion politicians who want to push abortion out of reach and punish women and doctors.
When a woman has decided to end a pregnancy and is unable to obtain an abortion from a health care provider for any reason, she may induce her abortion on her own. In some states, that could mean risking prosecution and jail. NIRH is working to ensure that however a woman chooses to end a pregnancy, she can do so safely, effectively, and without fear of prosecution.
NIRH firmly believes that abortion is health care, not a criminal act.
With the implications of a gutted Roe, and fewer abortion clinics open and accessible, we now face the perfect storm for the criminalization of women and medical professionals for seeking or providing abortions. The number of women who manage their own abortion, out of choice or necessity, would likely surge. Archaic laws criminalizing abortion could become enforceable and states could introduce new legislation to ban abortion outright, as they have in Ohio.
In 2018 and 2019, NIRH supported statewide campaigns in Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, and Michigan to decriminalize people seeking abortions and providers who offer abortion care.