A post-Roe America means millions of women seeking abortions will face a new set of mental-health challenges, three national organizations said in a joint statement on Friday.
They were responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legally mandated abortion access at the federal level. Now, states will be able to set their own abortion laws.
“[This] will lead to adverse mental-health consequences for people seeking to exercise bodily autonomy in making critical decisions related to their own reproductive health,” the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers said.
“‘Our nation is already experiencing a mental-health crisis. This is yet another factor that will contribute to negative mental-health outcomes for our society.’”
— The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers
On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling that had enshrined abortion as a constitutional right for Americans for nearly 50 years. The decision will affect millions of Americans, as 13 states have “trigger laws” that will automatically ban or severely restrict abortion in those states in the event that Roe is reversed.
The three associations said years of research has shown that people who are denied abortions are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety, lower life satisfaction and lower self-esteem compared with those who can obtain abortion services.
They also said the inability to get an abortion could increase the risk of domestic abuse, as research has shown evidence of a strong relationship between unwanted pregnancy and interpersonal violence. Furthermore, it could put those who are forced to stay in contact with violent partners at risk, as well as their children, they added.
At the same time, the organizations said the court’s decision will disproportionately affect people who already face discriminatory obstacles to health care, such as the Black and Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, and those who have difficulty making ends meet.
“Our nation is already experiencing a mental-health crisis. This is yet another factor that will contribute to negative mental-health outcomes for our society,” the organizations said in the statement.