Colleen Shalby and Priya Krishnakumar of Los Angeles Times write:
If the Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, the high court will have a consistently conservative majority. As a result, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, would be vulnerable. The most dramatic possibility would be that it is overturned outright. That would return the decision to the states about whether to ban or limit abortion.
Though Trump campaigned on a promise to appoint judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, a more likely scenario is that a conservative Supreme Court would approve restrictions that eliminate certain protections for abortion rights without making the practice illegal.
“Currently the promise of Roe vs. Wade is in many ways an empty one for so many people across the country,” said Megan Donovan of the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on abortion rights and women’s health.
Though abortion, at least during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy, is legal in every state since Roe vs. Wade was instituted 45 years ago, the law has not guaranteed easy access. How easily a woman can obtain an abortion depends on where she lives.
Ninety percent of all U.S. counties lack an abortion clinic. That affects 39% of women from ages 15 to 44. One in five women would need to travel at least 43 miles to reach a clinic. Six states have just one abortion provider. One of those states – Kentucky – could be the first to have no provider after the state challenged the legality of the last clinic in 2017.
More than 1,100 abortion restrictions have been enacted since Roe vs. Wade. According to the Guttmacher Institute, one-third of those restrictions were made between 2011 and 2017.