Recap: June 13 Reproductive Rights Webinar with Jennifer Merchant, Ph.D

Recap by Connie Borde

Jennifer Merchant, Ph.D*. in Political Sciences from the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, and Professor of Anglo-American legal and political institutions at the Université de Paris II (Panthéon-Assas), spoke for the Global Women’s Caucus in Paris on June 13 on the subject of the Criminalization of Women’s Bodies, following the recent abortion bans or restrictios in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio.

The evening was streamed live on Zoom, and over 100 persons listened and watched in real time.

No one in the audience was disappointed with Dr. Merchant’s complete and informative story of historical landmarks that got us to where we are today. Most striking was her analysis of trends in abortions (in 2014, the U.S. abortion rate reached a historic low) and the segment of the population most affected by the restrictions. Because of lack of access to health insurance and health care, abortion is increasingly concentrated among poor women, and abortion rates continue to vary by race and ethnicity.

For Dr. Merchant, the bottom line and philosophical underpinnings of this movement falls under the greatly discussed history of patriarchy and equal rights for women.

The question about reversing Roe v Wade was naturally a key point. If Roe fell, abortion rights would be lost in some states and remain secure in others.

If Roe v Wade is overturned:
  • 22 states could ban abortion outright.
  • In 8 states (including the District of Columbia), the right to abortion is at risk of loss.
  • In 21 states, the right to abortion appears to be more or less secure.

To watch the recording of Jennifer Merchant’s talk and hear her opinions about where we go from here, you can click here

*Jennifer Merchant sits on the Ethics Committee of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and the International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (FAB) Association as well as FAB Country Representative. She is a leading researcher in bioethical issues of comparative public policy with expertise in North American and European policy, and politics and regulation of medical technologies involving human reproduction. She started off her research on comparative abortion politics, and then became an expert in comparative law and politics on embryo research and assisted reproductive technology.