Announcements and Statements

SMFS Statement on Roe v Wade

Previous version circulated May 9, 2022; updated June 28, 2022

The Advisory Board of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship condemns in the strongest terms the United States Supreme Court decision of June 24, 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). This landmark case enshrined the right to an abortion, and as an intersectional feminist organization committed to global gender and racial justice, we are appalled by this politically biased gutting of fundamental human rights. The decision as it stands unilaterally harms all pregnant people, especially those from marginalized groups, such as people of color, trans men and nonbinary people, and low-income individuals who face many barriers accessing health care. 

Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, argues that for a right to an abortion to exist, it must be grounded in history. As historians, we know that banning abortions only stops access to safe abortions; those with money and power will continue to be able to receive this life-saving care. Abortions have occurred throughout human history, and this recent move by the United States Supreme Court serves to delegitimize women’s rights and bodily autonomy, not protect life. Neither religious nor secular law in medieval Europe or colonial America claimed such high-handed certainty, nor insisted on such indiscriminately punitive policy. While reproductive choice might be constrained by a number of factors, it could also be exercised with medical and communal support.

In this current moment, it is not enough to be pro-choice; we, the Advisory Board of the SMFS, affirm that we are unequivocally pro-abortion: abortions provide life-saving care and are key to feminist liberation. We call upon our fellow medievalists, academics, and scholars of gender to speak out against this move to oppress reproductive choice and to support organizations committed to increasing access to abortion care. We also encourage our peers to avoid comparisons between this political moment and references to an “archaic” past or East/West divide (e.g. “sending our rights back to the Middle Ages” or blaming “The American Taliban”) and ask them to recognize how these claims reify a false impression of modern “progress.” This decision is the product not of a historical mindset, despite claims to the contrary. Rather, it is the product of recent decades’ efforts to undercut women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, healthcare access, racial justice, and economic freedom.

We express our solidarity with our American colleagues as well as the marginalized populations of those states who have already lost access to abortion based on this ruling. We call upon the legislatures of those states, as well as the Federal Government of the United States, to pass laws that protect abortion access before this decision goes live. In solidarity, we encourage readers of this statement to learn more and support the following organizations doing on-the-ground work to protect reproductive rights and keep abortion accessible for all, and if capacity allows, to participate in local actions mobilizing against this ruling. We also stand with the 24 countries across the world where abortion is completely prohibited and with the more than 50 countries and regions in which access to abortion is limited.

Selected Abortion Resources:

Abortion Access Fund (Nebraska):

Arkansas Abortion Support Network:

Black Feminists Fighting Abortion Bans and Advancing Reproductive Justice:

Broward Women’s Emergency Fund (Florida):

Frontera Fund (Texas, Rio Grande Valley): 

Hoosier Abortion Fund (Indiana):

Iowa Abortion Access Fund: 

Kentucky Health Justice Network:

Lilith Fund (Texas)

Midwest Access Coalition: 

Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund:

Missouri Abortion Fund:

Mountain Access Brigade (Tennessee): 

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Network of Abortion Funds

New Orleans Abortion Fund: 

North Dakota Women in Need Abortion Access Fund:

Northwest Abortion Access Funds: 

Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice: 

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Plan C Abortion Pill:

Planned Parenthood (national)

Reclaim Project (Michigan):

Rewire News Group: 

Susan Wickland Fund (Montana):

Texas Equal Access Fund: 

Utah Abortion Fund: 

Women Have Options (Ohio): 

Women’s Health Center of West Virginia:

Women’s Medical Fund (Wisconsin):

Yellowhammer Fund (Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South): 

For comments and corrections, email