Growing up as a self-educated student motivates me to write an article for anyone feeling unaware. There are many blogs, news shows, and social media posts headlining the June 24 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v Wade, but I understand that some readers are left unhinged after reading the complex political rhetoric. I provide a simplified understanding of where Roe v. Wade originated, what the 2022 reversing means, and several links for personal research for greater understanding.
What Is Happening in the Supreme Court – Simplified
Women all over the world woke up on Friday June 24 devastated to one less right that had been precedent for 50 years. On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that proclaimed the constitutional right to abortion. The court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi abortion ban being challenged in the case and 5-4 to overturn Roe. Former President Trump took credit for the majority opinion by announcing in a statement on June 24 that he nominated three of the five conservative Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Even though legalized abortion has been proven to reduce the number of births to teenagers in the last 49 years (according to the Guttmacher Institute), new abortion bans are going to adversly impact teens today and in the future, especially marganized groups who struggle to access health care.
Caitlin Knowles Myers, a professor of economics at Middlebury College who published a report for Brookings Institute found that abortion legalization reduced the number of teen mothers by 34% due to easily accessible clinics. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Black women exposed to acccesible abortion clinics had higher rates of high school graduation and college attendance than unexposed Black women.
New abortion bans will adversely impact marginalized groups who struggle to access health care. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization centered on a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a standard that violated the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade. In “Dobbs,” the Supreme Court not only upheld Mississippi’s abortion ban (which provides that the 15-week clock begins ticking on “the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman,” so, in practice, the law functions as a 13-week abortion ban) but also overruled Roe v. Wade.
Read on to recognize what these decisions mean for women.
Roe v. Wade: Who are they and what is it?
Norma McCorvery also known as “Jane Roe ” was an American activist and the initial plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case. At 16 years old, “Roe” found out she was pregnant, which led to her getting married and divorced before the baby was born. Roe gave her baby to her mother to raise and released a second for adoption. She felt her only choice for her third pregnancy was abortion. Roe found two female lawyers to challenge the prosecution of abortion procedures in Texas at the time. In 1970, they filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County. However, Roe had her baby while the trial was still in session. Finally, in 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in her favor: In the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman had the right to have an abortion “free of interference by the State.”
In the view of the pro-choice movement, forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy, or forcing them to seek an unsafe abortion is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. This landmark decision recognized many fundamental rights and impacts such as:
- right to receive and decline healthcare
- right to conceive and not conceive (in vitro fertilization – IVF)
- safe procedures
- a woman’s autonomy over one’s body
- right to medical privacy
- low morbidity rates (health problems resulting from childbirth or pregnancy) because women have obtained abortions earlier in pregnancy when health risks are lowest
- reduction in single parent households
- decrease in child poverty rates
“Roe recognized a fundamental right to privacy that has served as the basis for so many more rights that we have come to take for granted,” President Joe Biden said in a public statement at the White House on Friday afternoon.
What does this reverse in law mean for you?
This change applies to more than every woman. The headlines are headlining abortion, but reversing Roe v. Wade will have a domino-effect of fundamental law cases. Abortion will be banned in 13 trigger states within 30 days. Women may have to travel to another state or country in seeking a legal and safe abortion, and each state will now have different rules. While some states have taken measures to restrict access to Plan B, currently, no state prohibits a person from going to another state for an abortion.
President Biden envisioned in a public address at the White House in March, that without the protection of law three Supreme Court decisions are at risk: the right to use birth control, the rights of a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom, and the right to marry the person you love.
Will conversations regarding your healthcare be kept confidential?
Generally, yes, conversations with your doctor regarding your medical care in a healthcare setting such as doctor’s offices, clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. will remain private. However with exceptions – medical personnel are allowed to call law enforcement regarding a patient if they suspect a crime has been committed, such as a self-induced abortion (unsafe abortions taking in the hands of someone that is not a medical license holder). This could be considered a felony in many states. The pro-life movement lacks the understanding that they are also being affected. Without the protections guaranteed under Roe v. Wade, it is more likely for our privacy to be disclosed.
Analysis and Opinion
The issue with the pro-life movement is that it is content to criminalize and irrationalize abortion first and hope everything will work itself out later. What about the 407,493 children placed into foster homes each year? Or, the 4 in 10 children living in a household struggling to meet basic expenses, and between 7 and 11 million children live in households which struggle to eat due to financial hardship?
This act first-think later concept is detrimental to kids in the system! Every year, about 20,000 youth will age out of the U.S. foster care system. After reaching the age of 18 (or in some states 21), 20% of the youth who were in foster care become homeless. Perhaps we start judging young adults less on their age and more on the systematic preparation of our education, societal, and government practices before pushing them into a world they are not prepared for.
Another example of the pro-lifer act first, think later mentality is the 192 Republicans who voted against providing $28 million in aid to the Food and Drug Administration to address the shortage of baby formula — within days of criticizing President Biden for not doing enough on the issue.
How do I feel about waking up to this unfortunate news?
In other words (slang), pro-lifers are saying, “OH! You GONE have these babies. I don’t know how you GONE feed them or put clothes on their back or do it as a single mother or work a minimum-wage job, or deal with the depression after being sexually assaulted. But ALL of you surely will be having these babies.”
I directly ask every anti-choice chooser why there is not universal healthcare or free daycare or free college education? Why do pro-life individuals seem to not care about human life after babies are born? Why do individuals lack empathy after a child is born? What are we doing to drop Black mortality rates? Why does a gun have more rights than a woman? Allowing nine people to decide for over 3.905 billion women is imprudent.
Waking up with one less right as a young Black woman is surely breathtaking, but regardless of if the American Dream provides all of us opportunities and rights, I’ll never stop fighting for them. Actually, without considering the ratios and numbers, allowing nine people to make the most private decision for one woman is injudicious.
I never thought I would wake up to less rights for women than my mother had, or my grandmother had growing up. What can I say? I believe we all shamefully expected this to come, because how legitimate is a court that does not recognize the full human rights of a woman? But how educated is a civilian that does not understand the extent of the rights they deserve?