AG Racine Statement on Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade

AG Racine: “The District’s fight for autonomy and statehood is intertwined with our fight for abortion access”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns the federal constitutional right to an abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade for the past half a century.

“For half a century, Roe v. Wade recognized the constitutional right to abortion in this country,” said AG Racine. “But now, the Supreme Court has revoked that right, leaving millions of patients and potential patients in its wake who will no longer be able to access critical health care that will have substantial impacts on their lives. 

District residents overwhelmingly and emphatically value reproductive freedom. For this reason, our local elected officials have passed strong patient-centered laws enabling residents and visitors to make the reproductive health decisions for themselves and their families.

“But across the country, we know 26 states are poised to or have already banned abortion. And more than a quarter of the nearly 800 abortion clinics across the country will immediately shutdown because of the Court’s decision. This decision creates a Berlin Wall across our country with two Americas: one where states and jurisdictions like DC continue to provide access to abortion and one where states don’t.

“And who gets hurt the most? We already know that low-income patients, especially Black and brown women and those in rural areas, already face barriers to reproductive care. They will further bear the brunt of the lack of access to abortion. It’s another dark chapter in a centuries-long effort to control women’s bodies and lives, particularly those in our most marginalized communities.

“We know this all too well in the District. The District’s fight for autonomy and statehood is intertwined with our fight for abortion access. We know our strong abortion laws could change if the federal government seeks to take away this right. We have seen the playbook before. Congress already bans us from using our own local Medicaid dollars to pay for abortion services for our most vulnerable residents.

“The Office of the Attorney General will do everything in our power to fiercely defend and strengthen the right to abortion in the District so that everyone can create their family how and when they choose. We will stand up for the rights of District residents and those across the country who come here to access care. And we will defend abortion providers who offer needed care to support the health, safety, and dignity of their patients.

“We all have a role to play in standing up for reproductive rights, and now is the time to do so. I urge you to support organizations doing critical work to help people in states with restrictive laws access reproductive health care. Ask your friends and family outside the District of Columbia to petition their members of Congress and their local legislators. Call on businesses to fill the gap where government has failed by allocating resources and putting in place strong reproductive rights policies for their employees. Join a peaceful protest. Vote.

“There’s a great deal we can each do to help fight for access to abortion care, and we must remain vigilant, especially when there are so many counting on us.”

OAG enforces the District’s laws, like the Human Rights Act and the Bias-Related Crimes Act, which provide civil legal protections for people seeking abortion services and those providing that care. The agency will continue to stand up for and protect clinics that provide abortion care from those who seek to illegally interfere with access to care. Any clinics or patients facing threats or intimidation should contact OAG at OAGCivilRights@dc.gov.

In 2020, the District of Columbia Council passed legislation that became law protecting the ability of everyone in the District to make their own reproductive health decisions without government interference.

Background on AG Racine’s work to advocate for reproductive rights

AG Racine has a long record advocating for reproductive rights and justice. Since 2018, OAG engaged more than 50 times in court cases and rulemaking processes on reproductive rights, including participating in amicus briefs, joining multi-state lawsuits, and joining multi-state comment letters.

Specifically, last year, AG Racine and 23 other attorneys general filed an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against Mississippi’s abortion ban. They called on the court to uphold its precedent protecting a woman’s right to decide before viability whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Separately, AG Racine and a coalition of 24 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s challenge to Texas’ unconstitutional six-week ban on abortions.

In 2020, AG Racine and six other attorneys general filed a lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from threatening access to safe and legal abortion care for individuals who purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s state health care exchanges. AG Racine also challenged the Trump administration’s actions that prevented some immigrant women from accessing abortion care while in federal custody. In 2017, he and 15 other attorneys general filed an amicus brief challenging an Ohio state law that would defund Planned Parenthood and other health service providers that perform or refer for abortions.

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