The Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice has been informing policy, practice and research from a human rights lens for almost 100 years. We are deeply dismayed and outraged by the recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling overturning a half century of precedent set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey which ensured individuals the right to privately make their own reproductive health care decisions. The right to access safe abortion has been a bedrock of promoting reproductive justice and safeguarding human rights in the United States.
The recent ruling by SCOTUS in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will impact policy, practice, personal care, and capacity of individual state reproductive health care systems. We have already seen several states ban or severely limit abortion since the decision. (For an overview of state abortion laws, see the Guttmacher Institute’s state legislation tracker. We know that the restrictions on safe and legal abortion will disproportionately impact those living in poverty, people of color and queer or gender queer individuals. Additionally, those who already face challenges in accessing health care due to living in rural or medically underserved areas will face additional barriers to obtaining the full range of reproductive services they might need. As an interdisciplinary organization focused on the intersection of social justice and behavioral health, we are deeply concerned for the physical, economic, psychological and emotional impacts of the SCOTUS decision.
At the broadest level, the impact of growing up and living in a country that denies and/or limits an individual’s self-determination, choice and reproductive rights is paramount. Research shows that being denied an abortion can result in people experiencing higher levels of anxiety, lower self-esteem, and lower life satisfaction than those whose access is unfettered (Biggs et al., 2017). Additionally, evidence suggests that people who are denied abortions are more likely to face economic hardships and live in poverty, which we know is an important social determinant of health and wellness (Foster et al., 2018).
The Global Alliance is gravely concerned by this ruling. For the first time in history, SCOTUS reversed a constitutional right that has protected self-determination, and the right for individuals to make their own choices. We remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting and advocating for the human rights, mental health and well-being of all.
Listen to Dr. Kendell Coker, Co-editor of AJO discuss the Psychological Impact of Supreme Court Overturning Roe v. Wade – YouTube
Relevant articles in American Journal of Orthopsychiatry:
David, Henry P. (2011). Born unwanted: Mental health costs and consequences. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01087.x
Biggs, M. A., Upadhyay, U. D., McCulloch, C. E., & Foster, D. G. (2017). Women’s mental health and well-being 5 years after receiving or being denied an abortion. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(2), 169. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3478
Foster, D. G., Biggs, M. A., Raifman, S., Gipson, J., Kimport, K., & Rocca, C. H. (2018). Comparison of health, development, maternal bonding, and poverty among children born after denial of abortion vs after pregnancies subsequent to an abortion. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(11), 1053. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1785