As of yesterday, it is rumored that the United States Supreme Court will be attempting to overturn Roe v Wade, the law that legalized abortion nationwide. In recent years, each state is becoming increasingly rigid when it comes to its abortion laws. For the sake of education (and women across the United States), I’m here to explain two things about Roe v Wade. First, what Roe v Wade actually is, and second, why the decision to overturn the law would have catastrophic outcomes.
I would like to preface this by saying that I will be remaining as neutral as possible until the end of this article. I am simply going to be presenting facts with as little opinion as I can until the marked section, My Thoughts on Overturning Roe v Wade. But before we get into that, let’s discuss what Roe v Wade is at its core.
Back in January of 1973, by a vote of 7-2, it was declared that extreme state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional. The majority ruling was put into effect after the Supreme Court found a set of Texas statutes criminalizing abortion (in most cases) to be violating a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. (I do think it’s important to note that the majority opinion consisted of five Republicans and two Democrats.)
It took three years to try the case before the Court, and was eventually resolved in favor of the plaintiff, “Jane Roe.” Her original case against Henry Wade, the DA of Dallas County in Texas, was for the absolute right to terminate pregnancy in any way and at any time. During the trial, Justice Harry A. Blackmun ruled in favor of Roe’s case, while still appealing to the Texas legislation. In doing so, he put into place the regulation that all abortions would need to occur within the viability period of the fetus (which is around 24 weeks).
Challengers of Roe v Wade
Ever since the legalization of abortion (with its conditions) in the Roe v Wade case, several attempts to overturn the ruling have since failed. In 1992, another prominent case allowed the Supreme Court to lay down that restrictions on abortion are unconstitutional. This ruling claimed that the restrictions placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions before the fetus is viable.
Many individual states have adopted legislation that bans abortion as early as week 15 of a pregnancy. Just at the beginning of this year, Texas passed Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) or Heartbeat Bill (HB 8), which prohibits “abortions after detection of an unborn child’s heartbeat.” SB 8 also includes any involvement in the act of “performing or inducing an abortion; authorizing an administrative penalty; creating a criminal offense.” All of this boils down to: anyone involved in the act of an abortion can be tried on criminal charges. And if you’re wondering the timeframe for SB 8 they’ve set the abortion ban at six weeks or as early as an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected on a fetal heart monitor.
Consequences of Overturning
Women and the fetuses they carry will suffer. Criminalizing and making abortions illegal across the board will prove the phrase, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Passing this new law will “return that authority [State’s regulation of abortions] to the people and their elected representatives.” As of this moment, there are 22 states with legislation in place restricting abortion to such a degree that it’s essentially illegal, and will be in actuality if the overrule occurs.
This will disproportionately affect women in lower socioeconomic classes and minorities. It will also widen the gap between social classes and flood the United States foster care system.
My Thoughts on Overturning Roe v Wade
All of the consequences are things that we’ve seen before. Abortions won’t stop. They will just no longer be safe. In an effort to protect women and unborn children, overturning Roe v Wade will effectively put them in more danger than ever before. It seems to me that much of the argument is stemming from a moral issue for people in power when it shouldn’t be taken as a moral issue for them.
The only thing that the overturning of Roe v Wade will do is set us back years. It will cause women who are in dire need of an abortion, the inability to access one. In my opinion, there are better ways to do so than taking away a portion of their fundamental rights (i.e. mandatory reversible vasectomies). I hope to retain my bodily autonomy through the religious exemption offered to me by TST. For more information about TST’s efforts, check out Joseph P. Laycock’s 2013 novel Speak of the Devil.
Senator Schumer says, “We will vote to protect a women’s right to choose and every American is going to see which side every senator stands.”
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