Document Type


Publication Date



Women's Rights Law Reporter



First Page


Last Page



Over the last several decades, as part of the movement against abortion rights, abortion has become increasingly stigmatized and isolated in women's health. The current segregation of abortion from the rest of women's medical needs brings us full circle back to questions raised by Roe v. Wade. Although Roe was rightly criticized as over-medicalizing the abortion decision and empowering doctors rather than women, we have now shifted to the opposite extreme of severing abortion completely from the realm of women's health. While it remains important to understand abortion access as necessary to sustaining women's right to equal citizenship, the public's perception of abortion as a medical issue has receded to the point that we have lost sight of abortion care as health care-and this shift in framing has contributed to the loss of access to care. One way we can recover the notion of abortion as health care is to focus on the side effects of anti-abortion laws on women's health care. This essay challenges the false assumption that abortion care can be segregated from women's medical care and targeted for special restrictions without any ripple effects on women's health more broadly. As a matter of medical reality, abortion cannot be isolated from women's health care more broadly. In fact, existing abortion restrictions harm women's health even for women not actively seeking abortion care, but these effects remain obscured.

This essay unmasks the ripple effects of abortion restrictions that, perhaps unintentionally, impede the provision of basic health care other than abortion. Focusing the public's attention on the broader effects of abortion restrictions on women's health could help make visible the links between abortion and health care. Uncovering these links could also create stronger support for access to abortion and thereby better promote full health care access for women. Repositioning the law to recognize access to abortion care as integral to women's medical needs remains critical for protecting women's health.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.