June 24th, 2022. A gut-wrenching day for women, whether you are low income, a person of color, or just someone who wants control of their body. In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. In light of recent mass shootings in grocery stores, elementary schools, and medical offices, it seems that the Supreme Court would rather dictate the choices of women than protect their promise of equal justice under law. Without addressing the lack of sex education, the foster care system, or resources to properly aid low-income mothers, the Supreme Court has taken their fight up with protecting unborn life. Now, this overturning has created a domino effect. Leaving not only women, but Native Americans, same sex and interracial couples all left wondering: Will we have any rights left?
Roe v. Wade is known as the landmark case in 1973 that established the constitutional right to abortion. The case started when Jane Roe, a single woman living in Dallas County, Texas, filed a lawsuit against her district’s attorney, Henry Wade. Roe believed that abortion being illegal violated her right to personal privacy. After a very public trial, the Supreme Court made history on January 22, 1973 in a 7-2 decision that the criminalization of abortion violated women’s right to privacy. The majority ruled that women had the liberty to make their own choices for their body under the Due Process Amendment in the 14th Amendment (the privacy clause). Now, the Supreme Court is making history again by overturning this landmark case and once again permitting states to outlaw and criminalize abortions.
Although the Supreme Court has taken away abortion as a constitutional right, they have failed to recognize their true decision. They have only taken away safe abortion. After the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, women had increased accessibility to safe and legal abortion. Now with 24 states looking to ban abortion, with some having no exception of rape or incest, many women will be forced to risk their lives and health for illegal, unsafe abortion methods. Harvard professor Ana Langer reported a study stating, “the banning of abortion would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy related deaths overall…” and, “increased deaths due to unsafe abortions or attempted abortions would be in addition to these estimates.” Along with an increase of risky, unsafe “back alley” abortions, low-income women, who are disproportionately women of color, will be at an even greater risk. Due to many factors including microaggressions, the higher chance of chronic diseases, and lack of accessibility to proper medical resources, Black women are currently three times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes, and carrying a pregnancy to term is 14 times riskier than having an abortion. With the banning of abortion, the maternal mortality for Black women will increase by a considerable 33%.
The states that already had trigger laws in place to ban abortion and the states that are likely to ban abortion are primarily in the South and Midwest, where half of African-Americans live in the U.S. Stacey Abrams, previous Representative in Georgia and current candidate for governor ,recently made a statement on what this ruling means for the state of Georgia: “Right here in Georgia… even as the state grapples with a broken healthcare system and a shortage of medical access. Kemp’s dangerous and extreme six-week abortion ban will soon be the law across Georgia, forcing women to face prosecution and doctors to risk incarceration for a medical decision…This mean-spirited, political decision will only prevent access to safe abortions and exacerbate crises in our state by preventing medical professionals from providing their patients with lifesaving care.”
Women who cannot afford a child will be forced to raise a child in poverty. Women who do not want to be a mother will be forced to have an unwanted child. Women who cannot carry and deliver a baby safely will be forced to kill themselves. Women who have been raped will be forced to live with their trauma. Children who have made a mistake will be forced to give up education. And this is only the beginning.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that along with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the rulings of LGBTQ+ rights and contraceptives need to be reconsidered. What does this mean for minorities? Let’s look at some of the landmark cases Justice Thomas wants the court to reconsider.
Using the same reasoning of Roe v Wade, the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment, the court ruled the right to marry is a fundamental liberty that the clause protects in the Obergefell v. Hodges case in 2015. Therefore, this case permitted same-sex couples to get legally married. That same clause also protected the right to contraceptives in the infamous Griswold v. Connecticut case. In 1965, the court ruled, in a 7-2 decision, that the 14th amendment protected citizens against state restrictions on contraceptives with the basis of the right to marital privacy, thus allowing birth control, condoms, IUDs, etc. Now these rights have been brought into question.
Although these cases were only mentioned by Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion to be reconsidered, the Supreme Court has already continued their pursuit in controlling minority groups by overturning McGrit v. Oklahoma, a decision that protected Native Americans from being prosecuted by state or local law enforcement on Native reservation land. This ruling strips tribal governments of the ability to prosecute non- Natives on Native land. Now the state governments on native land hold the right to prosecution, yet again not allowing the Natives to have jurisdiction over their own land.
The decision to strip women of their right to choose is the beginning of regression in America. Representative Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez took to Twitter to state, “Truth is, this is not about life and never has been. It’s about seizing power and control”, and she stresses, “Voting is critical but alone it’s not enough. We will need to organize, strike… People have more power than they realize.It’s time we rediscover it .”
Although this news is heartbreaking, people before have fought this fight. Now it is our turn to fight it again.
Here are some ways that you can join the fight:
- Make sure to vote in local elections so that those in charge of your state represent your values and will protect your rights. You can register once you are 17 ½.
- Look for protests, rallies, and petitions in your local area.
- If you can, you can donate to the ACLU or an abortion fund through National Network of Abortion Funds.
- Share resources with those who might need it, such as National Network of Abortion Funds and/or Planned Parenthood.