The aftermath of the United States Supreme Court’s decision on June 24, 2022, to overturn Roe v. Wade has been disastrous for those in need of an abortion. While abortion used to be a protected reproductive right, it is no longer the case. Here are some things to review and consider as abortion rights continue to be in jeopardy:
1. The Roe v. Wade Story:
In simple terms, under Roe v. Wade (1973), the United States Supreme Court essentially decided that abortion is a constitutional right under the 14th Amendment, which emphasizes the right to privacy. However, the road to finalizing that decision was not the easiest. In the 1960s, abortion was rarely allowed. Arguments for abortion largely started after the last major rubella epidemic and the infamous thalidomide scandal, which left many babies born with various disabilities and defects.
Eventually, in 1971, Former Texas State Representative Sarah Weddington advocated for abortion rights in front of the Supreme Court Justices. She argued that for true freedom, abortion must be considered a Constitutional right. The Supreme Court eventually passed its decision in 1973. Their decision indicated that abortion would be protected under the 14th Amendment since it implies a right to privacy. Still, states imposed their own restrictions on when abortions could be performed as a pregnancy progressed.
Want to know more about the Roe v. Wade story? Read more about it at:
2. The Overturning of Roe v. Wade:
In June of 2022, under Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Since the overturn, abortion rights have no longer been protected under the Constitution. However, some states may still independently protect it. What’s even more concerning is that according to the laws in some states, abortion can be fully banned once fetal viability is confirmed. In states with stricter laws, it is often that even in the case of an ectopic pregnancy (which can lead to eventual sepsis in the mother), incest, or rape, an exception to the ban won’t be considered.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, abortion is currently illegal in 12 states. They are Idaho, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Expanded access to abortion is available in ten states. They include Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, New York, and Connecticut.
To find out more about the abortion laws in your state, visit the Abortion Law Map on the website of the Center for Reproductive Rights here. Simply click on your state and/or territory to view the details on the abortion laws in place.
3. Disastrous and Dangerous Consequences:
No Safe Abortions:
Let’s make one thing clear: making abortion illegal will not stop them from being done. Rather, those who seek abortions may do so in unsafe ways which also endanger their own lives. To access safe, clinical abortions, they may need to travel state lines and risk getting caught in the act. This is even more concerning when we consider that some states will charge healthcare workers for providing abortions in a clinical setting. Let’s take a look at the time before Roe v. Wade. Then, self-performed abortions were common. Just a couple more well-known examples included using wire hangers or flinging themselves down a flight of stairs.
A Medical POV:
Also, one must consider the various reasons for which abortion may be needed. Abortion is a medical procedure to end a pregnancy. Needless to say, abortion is healthcare, and everybody deserves access to needed healthcare. Abortion bans are very dangerous, especially when seen in a medical light.
Of course, there can be multiple complications during a pregnancy that may or may not lead up to a miscarriage and/or ectopic pregnancy. These scenarios can severely deteriorate the mother’s own health and can even cause death in serious circumstances. Not to mention, if a baby has a lethal health condition (such as underdeveloped vital organs), the baby may pass away. Furthermore, victims of sexual abuse, rape, or incest that results in a pregnancy could be forced to prolong their trauma. Of course, these situations would create a lot of physical, emotional, and mental trauma without safe access to abortion.
The Trauma of Forced Birth:
In one 2022 case, a 10-year-old girl was impregnated by her assailant and had to travel to Indiana to get a safe abortion. What is even more enraging about the case was that some people who took the “pro-life” stance didn’t see the horrific truth of the situation but rather took to the internet to describe how it was a “blessing” for the 10-year-old to be able to bring in a new life. However, one question is raise is this: are these people truly pro-life if they don’t recognize the life of the 10-year-old girl and the trauma she had gone through? Where does being “pro-life” end and being complicit begin?
In general, one must also consider the intersectionality of the topic here. If a mother does not have the ability to give a child the resources (reliable access to financial stability, food, water, shelter, education, etc.), why should she be forced to birth the child? Does the potential suffering that the child may go through in their life not receive consideration? If not, then the ideology isn’t “pro-life”; it’s forced birth. Needless to say, abortion bans contribute to a traumatic toll that will only skyrocket if unchanged.
4. Keep Politics Out of Medicine:
We live in a male-dominated, patriarchal society. The large majority of these cisgender men do not possess a medical education. They remain unaware of how drastically and negatively these abortion bans can affect a population. Not to mention, women do not have proportionate representation in the government. Why should laws covering women’s reproductive rights be made by those who are not at all educated about pregnancy and will never themselves experience it?
Most “pro-life” arguments stem from personal beliefs and/or religious morals that do not regard the mother’s needs. It is okay to practice your own religion for yourself, but it is not at all okay to force your beliefs down others’ throats. This behavior is what leads to the danger of politics and religion mingling with medicine. If you are against abortion for yourself, then that’s fine. Nobody is forcing you to get one. However, that doesn’t mean that you get to enforce your beliefs on everyone else. Abortion is healthcare, and people should always have the right to choose what happens to their bodies.