June 24, 2022

Special PCDC Statement: Reproductive health care, including abortion, is an essential component of primary care

Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States held that women[1] have the right to decide whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term or to have an abortion. Today, the Supreme Court upended health care access for millions of people across this country, ruling that it no longer interprets the United States Constitution as protecting the right to abortion. Instead, in many states, policymakers, insurance companies, providers, and others will now have the power to decide when or whether a pregnant individual can seek the care she needs.

The Court’s decision today will lead to an immediate ban on most abortions in a number of states, impacting not only abortion access but also access to contraception, counseling, and miscarriage and other important care. The impact of this will be felt most by those who already struggle to access health care, including those in low-income, underserved, and disinvested communities, as well as communities of color.  Moreover, as more women are forced to continue pregnancies they would otherwise have ended, it is important to note that Black women will face additional risk as they “are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.”[2]

Reproductive health care services are crucial for the 72 million women of reproductive age in the US, and abortion is a critical part of those services; one in four women has an abortion before the age of 45 in this country. While the need for that care will not change, today’s decision will put it out of reach for many.

PCDC remains committed to our core mission: expanding access to quality, patient-centered primary care, for all individuals in every part of our country. Because millions of women and others who can become pregnant will now lose access to abortion, PCDC is committed to working with partners to help expand access to this critical service. As PCDC works to build a patient-centered approach to health care with equitable and accessible primary care at its core, we call on all health care payers, providers, and policymakers to recognize sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion services, as an inseparable part of primary care, and that high-quality, comprehensive primary care should never be restricted or compromised based on politics or ideology.

[1] In addition to women, other individuals who do not identify as women, including transgender men and some non-binary people, may also have the capacity to become pregnant and need access to comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion.

[2] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Equity: Working Together to Reduce Black Maternal Mortality, https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html (last visited May 31, 2022).