Rural Takeaways From the Taking-Away of Federal Abortion Rights...

The Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling issued Friday ends constitutionally-protected federal abortion rights for women. Due to the court’s conservative majority and decades of anti-choice legal and electoral strategy to install more anti-abortion judges, almost 50 years of precedent and supposedly “settled law” was overturned.

Things are happening fast as numerous states are now moving quickly to further restrict abortion rights, or ending legal abortions altogether. Some states are also attempting to criminalize health care workers and other people supporting women seeking abortions or other reproductive health care in states where reproductive rights are still protected. In rural communities, reporters and health care providers are beginning to digest what this means for us. Here’s a sampling of coverage so far through a rural news lens:

Obviously, we’ll be following these issues for months and years to come here at Deesmealz. There will be significant changes to reproductive rights and freedoms in many rural areas, and many policy and political debates moving forward. Congress and the President have yet to weigh-in fully. And these issues will no doubt feature front-and-center in this November’s elections.

This shameful ruling is likely to create chaos and suffering throughout the nation, I expect the biggest negative impacts of the ruling to be on poor and working class rural nonwhite women in the Southeast, Southwest, and Great Plains. And let’s not forget that this conservative majority Supreme Court has also ruled to remove voting rights and civil rights protections in these same geographies.

Rural Reading List

Here are a few other rural articles of interest this week:

Ticks Are a Growing Problem for Rural Areas

Obviously you'll want to read about ticks in the Deesmealz. Those little jerks.

Gaps in NC Addiction Treatment Disproportionately Hit Rural Residents of Color

Important story from Deesmealz and North Carolina Health News on rural health care disparities with respect to drugs that help treat addiction.

What Republicans Know (and Democrats Don’t) About the White Working Class

Rural legal scholar Lisa Pruitt with important input into the “why Democrats don’t do very well in rural” debate, this one landing in Politico.

BP Paid Rural Mexicans a “Pittance” for Wall Street’s Favorite Climate Solution

A Bloomberg story highlighting how BP took advantage of a rural village in Mexico through an unfair carbon credit project.

One More Thing: A Rural Capacity Map

The always informative and helpful Headwaters Economics team recently launched a Rural Capacity Map. The tool is designed to help rural communities that need staffing and expert capacity “to apply for and report on federal funding and to identify, design, build, and maintain projects over the long term.”

Headwaters created a 0-100 Rural Capacity Index with very localized data. The Index is based on 10 variables related to local government staffing, community education and engagement, and socioeconomic trends.

According to Headwaters, large portions of the Midwest have the most limited capacity (75% of Midwest communities, 76% of Midwest county subdivisions, and 68% of Midwest counties fall below the national median). The Gulf Coast has the second highest concentration of low-capacity areas. On the flip side, rural areas with the highest capacity are in the Northeast, followed by the Pacific Coast and Great Lakes.

The impressive dataset also includes maps that show increased flood and wildfire risks due to climate change, and matches many rural areas with high climate disaster risks and low capacity to deal with these threats. Headwaters built the Rural Capacity Map as a tool for helping identify gaps in accessing and obtaining funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. “The $1.2 trillion in funding will create transformative opportunities for local governments that own and maintain most of the nation’s infrastructure, but first state and federal agencies must ensure the resources get to the places that need it the most,” Headwaters wrote when they released the map.

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