(Los Angeles, CA) — Statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO of the United Ways of California, (UWCA) regarding equity and reproductive health:

At United Ways of California and in United Ways across the state, we believe every person in every community deserves the opportunity to lead a good life; and believe that increasing freedom, defined by the capability to choose one’s definition of a good life, is the guidestar. That is why we work to expand equitable access to health, education, and financial stability for all people. 

On June 24, the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization declared that the US Constitution does not protect the rights of women to make decisions about the course of their pregnancies at any phase, overturning nearly 50 years of what every Justice in the Dobbs majority assured Americans was “settled law.”

The harmful impacts of the Dobbs decision will fall most heavily on vulnerable, marginalized populations, including Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and low-income people of color- who experience the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality.  The fallout from Dobbs is already restricting or denying access to safe, affordable, and dignified reproductive health care to millions of Americans and their families. Already we’ve seen reports of doctors delaying life-saving care to people experiencing ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages, of 10-year old rape victims being forced to travel to another state to seek care, and exposure of doctors to threats and intimidation for providing reproductive care. This will pose risks to people’s immediate physical and mental health, their lifelong health and well-being, and the fortunes of their families. (Source: WHO).

The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision will affect public health and reproductive health care in ways that are sweeping and unpredictable, beyond only cases in which doctors and patients weigh termination of pregnancy. The decision overturns a framework of rights and responsibilities that has stood for nearly 50 years and turns vital questions of equal protection, personal autonomy, and religious freedom over to state legislatures, without providing coherent rationales or guidance for states to follow. In the years since Roe v. Wade was decided, American medicine has made tremendous improvements in techniques and standards of care, including approaches that are related to, or could be construed as abortion; such as treating and ameliorating pain and damage due to miscarriage (1 in 4 American women experience miscarriage by the age of 45), responding to life-threatening complications like ectopic pregnancies, the provision of treatment for cancer, the provision of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help people with difficulties conceiving, and more. These practices are embedded in a wide range of medical care, yet the Court’s failure to provide guidance leaves many doctors and their patients at risk of criminal liability, harassment, and violence; not to mention the increased risk of preventable death of patients if they try to meet modern medicine’s standards of care. 

The Dobbs decision has made the path to achieving true freedom and justice for all Americans longer, more contentious, and more dangerous. We reaffirm our commitment to advancing equity, racial justice, and equal access to health care for all. We stand in solidarity with those who advocate on behalf of our most marginalized communities, and will continue to advocate for policies that move us toward a more perfect union.