The unthinkable has happened. A constitutional right for the last 49 years will soon be revoked. The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.
The majority of women alive today have depended on their right to have a legal, healthy, safe abortion.
Others have feared this day might come, knowing all too well the devastation laws making abortions illegal inflicted over 50 years ago. This vote didn’t just wipe out five decades of a constitutionally granted right, it upheld the brutal Mississippi law that banned all legal abortions after 15 weeks, even in cases of rape and when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. A 12-year-old girl raped by her father or a woman who could die if forced to carry to term are not exempt. Their emotional and physical health is not relevant.
The court threw the decision back to the states to decide, knowing full well some, like Texas, have effectively banned abortions and made anybody that supports an expectant mother in her pursuit of an abortion, even somebody that may have unknowingly transported her to a clinic for that purpose, vulnerable to being sued. This includes her mother, family, friends, clergy, and doctor. Isolating her completely at the most painful, vulnerable moment of her life.
Abortions didn’t start with Roe v. Wade. That constitutional guarantee didn’t suddenly give women an option they’d never thought about. I saw first hand the destruction a hangar thrust into the vagina or back alley abortion caused. Roe v. Wade finally gave women the legal right to abort safely so it didn’t kill or maim them. Roe v. Wade didn’t give us the right to have an abortion Roe v. Wade gave us the right to have an abortion in a safe and healthy environment. Now, in 2022 a handful of people have suddenly decided this is no longer an option in the most advanced nation in the world. In fact, the decision went so far as to unilaterally argue when life becomes viable! Accepting Mississippis arbitrary 15 week deadline.
After extensive arguments and scientific data, Roe v. Wade accepted an abortion could be performed legally up to week 28- when a fetus could survive outside the womb. Since that decision, many have argued medical advances have improved viability to 24 weeks. But most argue it should remain 28 weeks because it’s the point a woman can reasonably defend herself against an unwanted pregnancy most don’t even know exists for months.
50 years of accepted doctrine was discarded. No experts were consulted. Had this been done by a lower court, we’d be shocked but secure in knowing any reputable court would refute and repair the damage such illiterate claims had caused. These five justices threw it back “where it belongs, to individual states and their voters to decide.” But we have already seen what states do with that right. Before Roe v. Wade, 30 states banned abortions at any time. Now, half of them have laws already on the books waiting to abolish all abortions rights when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Including Arizona.
They didn’t ask the voters. Another handful of legislators have decided for us even when every poll has consistently shown 70% of Americans favor legal abortions.
In his majority opinion draft, justice Alito refutes the claim abortions fall under the “heightened security” provision of the 14th amendment, “The regulation of a medical procedure that only one sex can undergo does not trigger heightened constitutional scrutiny unless the regulation is a ‘mere pretext designed to effect an invidious discrimination against members of one sex or the other.” He goes on to justify his position by citing a lower court’s decision, the “goal of preventing abortion ‘does not constitute invidiously discriminatory animus against women’”. How can anyone argue there’s “no invidious discriminatory animus against women” in laws that seek to unilaterally control, harm and force solely pregnant women to deliver unwanted babies? Now that legislators have been emboldened there’s talk they will vote in congress to federally outlaw abortions anywhere in the country.
Make no mistake. This decision and those behind it will impact every American. Not just women. But especially women who haven’t the resources to travel hundreds of miles to a state that offers safe abortion laws for as long as they stay legal. It will affect men who are equally responsible for those children, families already overwhelmed with children they can barely provide for and escalate welfare costs. Reasons to have an abortion are deeply personal and shouldn’t be subject to anyone’s interference. One in every four women have had an abortion. Whether I choose to abort a fetus because I have no support, it’s just not the time to be pregnant, it interferes with my financial or career goals, risks my health, will cause societal consequences or condemnation, perpetuates an abusive relationship… is my business.
This is just the beginning. Many, including justice Amy Barrett who signed her name to a 2006 antiabortion newspaper ad, have compared in vitro fertilization to murder and recommended it be criminalized. Some have even gone so far as to claim abortion starts at fertilization so every form of birth control should be outlawed!
It was a plan that had begun when restrictions existed on pharmaceutical products that provided the ability to medically prevent a pregnancy after having unprotected sex. Claiming this too is a form of abortion. Those restrictions were recently lifted in 2013. The truth is women spend the majority of their lives preparing the uterus to implant a viable egg. Should all aspects of our cycle be subject to laws defining what we can and can’t do because it may prevent even the possibility of pregnancy?
It has been universally accepted that the advent of birth control in the 1900s was a critical component for empowering women, single handedly giving women the power to decide when, or if, they’d conceive. No longer barefoot and pregnant we finally had control over our bodies and our lives. Allowing us to choose education, careers, economic advancement and in some cases a way to end an abusive relationship controlled by fear and violence. This devastating act puts all Supreme Court decisions in jeopardy.
We’ve already seen the consequences when the court decided in 2013 to remove federal oversight that prevented states from enacting laws that could discriminate or infringe on voting rights. Since then over 300 laws in 43 states have been written to limit mail in ballots, in-person and Election Day voting. Other decisions that led to land mark cases including the right to gay marriage, consensual sexual activity, parental independence, and interracial marriage are at risk. No longer the United States of America but a conglomerate of states where the freedom to marry anyone we want and decide our reproductive future is illegal when we cross state lines.
We have seen what it costs to deny women choice. Are we really prepared to force our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, grandchildren, nieces, cousins, friends. . . to carry an unwanted pregnancy? Are we really prepared to force children, babies themselves, to deliver violently induced pregnancies? It’s time to take back our power. We each have a voice and say in what happens from this point forward. This November we can make a clear statement to anyone who dares to trespass on our private lives, our bodies, our health. Not today, not tomorrow., not ever.