Thursday, October 6“Racism never sleeps.”

SCOTUS Roe v. Wade reversal may trigger a ripple effect

What’s the difference between 1973 and 2022? If you were to judge it by our regression in human rights, like me, you’d be wise to say not much. Nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade was passed — by men (humans who will never know what it feels like to carry a child) — it has been reversed.

To understand how the SCOTUS’ latest overreach of power came to reality today, let’s rewind to January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, struck down a Texas law banning abortion, effectively legalizing abortion nationwide. This case was known as Roe vs Wade. The court declared that a woman’s right to an abortion was implicit in the right to privacy protected by the 14th Amendment. For those that do not know what the the 14th amendment is, you can also find it here. It states that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey allowed states to put limits on abortion, such as a trimester framework for abortions. This means that states may not prohibit abortions before fetal viability. This means that a fetus is viable — can survive outside of a woman’s womb after 23 weeks, before that abortions are allowed. The law’s after 1973 and up until now, gave a woman the option to choose.

This brings us to today, June 24, 2022 when  the Supreme Court’s decision on a Mississippi case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturned Roe v. Wade and the Planned Parenthood v Casey case in a 5-4 decision. The court found that the Constitution, such as the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment used for both the Roe and Casey SCOTUS cases, had no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision. The court’s opinion was that abortion is a matter to be decided by states and the voters of that state, and that the Constitution does not grant a right to abortion. The court’s overturning these laws now give individual states the power to set their own abortion laws without the concern of Roe vs Wade or planned parenthood vs Casey in its way, which had previously permitted abortions during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy.

In an instant, millions of women have lost their right to decide what to do with their bodies — again.

Currently, there are 13 states that have abortion trigger laws that will immediately and potentially ban abortion. The list of states with abortion trigger laws can be found here. But it doesn’t stop there. Other states are not guaranteed safety. Ultimately, all states appear to be completely free to ban abortions for any reason. Congress, if it leans Republicans later this year, can enact a federal ban. Will medications such as emergency contraceptives, plan B, or even birth control implants or IUD’s be next to be banned? This may seem like an extreme hypothetical but today’s reversal of a 50-year-old fundamental protection of women’s rights is a symbol of how a minority of extremists believe they have political capital.

It would be remiss if I didn’t point out that by the Supreme Court removing Roe, this puts more restrictive abortion policies in place that will disproportionally hurt the reproductive health of Black women that already have higher maternal mortality, less access to quality health care, including insurance, and more problematic pregnancies. Rural areas like Mississippi where systemic racism has had an adverse effect on Blacks that account for 37% of Mississippi’s population, only has one abortion clinic open, The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which will potentially close once the triggers go into effect.

Criminalizing abortions does not mean stopping abortions. In fact, it will only bring it back to a time before Roe v. Wade, when some women resorted to extreme measures to abort their fetus. Most of these measures were unsafe, unsanitary or only offered to the wealthy. It poses a serious threat to the health of the unborn child and mother. Pro-lifers cannot seem to grasp the hypocrisy of their beliefs. This will affect women who are not able to perhaps travel to have abortion procedures done, which includes people in rural communities which are largely women of color.

Are other laws at risk? Absolutely. The use of contraceptives, same sex marriage, interracial marriage and the rights of adults to engage in consensual sexual intimacy were all found by the Supreme Court to be protected in some way in part by the 14th Amendments due process clause and the constitutional right to privacy. One of theSCOTUS members also mentioned today that he believes some of these rights that I previously mentioned that are at risk and were previously ruled on by The Supreme Court, should also be reconsidered and therefore possibly overturned. 

When will this game of hot potato, overturning laws that were fought for and that have no constitutional repercussions to be overturned,  come to an end? Democrats have their share of blame in this. Congress could have cemented abortion rights decades ago, even within my lifetime. Instead, they allowed a male-dominated SCOTUS to choose a woman’s reproductive rights. Currently, 6 out of the 9 Supreme Court justices are men. These men, in the highest positions of authority, are choosing what a woman can and cannot do with their bodies — again. 

The SCOTUS decision is out of touch with Americans’ views of abortion. Polls show that most Americans support a woman’s right to choose. If Supreme Court’s justices fell they can overturn laws and say they will just leave it up to the states, federal protections of the aforementioned laws are all at risk of being on the chopping block. 

If the SCOTUS and Republicans really want to move society forward, then they need to find a balance. If their message is pro-life at all costs, then that shouldn’t mean placing burden on women. Back it up with financial support. Free, quality and unrestricted health care for mother and child, quality insurance coverage, low cost housing for the baby and mother, and not limit a family to living in urban or low income communities. The pro-life proponents need to put their money where their mouth is, but they won’t. It was not long ago when there was an attempted to take to the SCOTUS the matter of potentially removing the affordable health care act. It’s another symbol of their hypocrisy.

We’re living in a broken time machine, and I, like every American woman, am ready to start moving forward.

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