Statement by the National Union of Healthcare Workers on draft Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade
On May 2, a draft document was leaked to the public indicating that the U.S. Supreme Court may soon reverse a half century of decisions protecting women’s reproductive rights. As a union of healthcare providers, we are doubly impacted by this move.
NUHW has long insisted that all health care decisions should be made by patients and their providers alone — without the intrusion of a coercive government. With respect to abortion procedures, we have gone so far as to incorporate this belief into our collective bargaining agreements.
We have also advocated emphatically that no person’s healthcare options should be limited by how much money they make or where they happen to live. Health care is a basic human right. That has been the guiding principle behind NUHW’s campaign for a fair and universal healthcare system.
The prospective Supreme Court ruling flies in the face of these core beliefs.
By overturning Roe v. Wade, the right-wing majority on the Court takes up the cause of those who have for decades tried to use the police powers of the state to dictate who can get what kind of health care. They write that, because the 233-year-old Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and because reproductive rights were not established until the latter part of the 20th century, the U.S. provides no guarantees as to their protection.
In the near future, such a ruling will severely constrain the reproductive health options for residents in half the United States. The effects will be especially bad for lower-income people – those who do not have the ability to take time off and travel hundreds or thousands of miles to get the care they need. The consequences are also dire for healthcare providers, who will be criminalized for assisting their patients.
Let us be clear, though, that the repercussions are not limited to women seeking to terminate their pregnancies. The same forces that have campaigned to set the stage for this ruling seek to go much further. They have rolled back family planning and other preventive sexual and reproductive health programs. They have targeted health services for LGBTQ people. They have blocked expansion of safety net coverage to millions of poor people. They have banned undocumented residents from buying insurance through Covered California and other health markets.
NUHW members not only depend on essential health care services; we deliver them. That puts us in a unique position to advocate for the change we need in this country. Our government officials – especially Supreme Court justices – should be in the business of expanding guarantees of human rights, not of taking them away.
As a union, we will use this terrible ruling as a spur to redouble our efforts to make change happen. That starts by talking to our neighbors, getting out the vote for candidates who share our vision, and by persuading legislators to take the urgent action we need. Healthcare workers must be at the forefront in making sure that abortion care, like any other health service, is available to everyone, where and when they need it.