This morning — June 24, 2022 — the Supreme Court of the United States of America overturned Roe vs. Wade. Therefore, women in the U.S. have lost their constitutional rights of having an abortion, leaving the legislation of abortion rights in the hands of each state.
As I ponder and study the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, I am always reminded that I cannot show too much emotion as a Black woman in the United States of America. We live in a society where one can be perceived as a stereotyped “angry Black woman,” though we are just women with power and courage to fight the good fight. However, today I stand in my passion with tears in my eyes and declare: I am scared of being a Black woman in America, but I will not stop fighting. This Supreme Court decision will have a forceful impact on minority women, teenage girls, and women worldwide.
This decision has left millions of women even more vulnerable. We live in a country where women are considered to be the minority, leaving us to be the second choice or the last thought as we are continuously fighting for our rights in the workforce, our homes, and now we no longer have the rights over our bodies.
Today’s Supreme Court values tradition and religion rather than reality. The justices’ main argument for overturning Roe v. Wade stated that abortion is unjust and shows a lack of morality. I would love for them to recite those words to a teenage girl who has now been stripped of her choice to have a child.
The Supreme Court has failed to look at the domino effect of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Here are the many impacts that will follow this inane decision of our judicial system:
1. The overturning of Roe v. Wade will leave a hole in the economy. Forbes reported the following: The pay gap, motherhood penalty, lack of affordable childcare and lack of a national paid leave policy were some of the factors that pushed women out of the workforce at higher rates than men, with women of color leaving at the highest rates. Today there are still 656,000 fewer women in the workforce than there were pre-pandemic, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Women in the workforce are essential to our economy. Caregivers are essential to our economy. Overturning Roe v. Wade can impact women’s ability to take care of themselves and the children they have now or in the future. Approximately 60% of women in the U.S. who have abortions are already mothers, and approximately one-third of women seeking an abortion say their reason for wanting to terminate the pregnancy is to care for children they already have, according to a 2018 article in the Journal of Pediatrics.
2. Black women have remained vulnerable to the healthcare system in the United States, and that vulnerability will only increase. Black women experience the highest levels of unintended pregnancies. As a result, they’re three times more likely than white women to seek abortion services. And Hispanic women are two times more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy than white women. This is according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that backs reproductive rights.
3. Black women’s maternal mortality rates are also predicted to dramatically increase. The CDC reported that Black women experience maternal mortality two to three times higher than that of white women. The estimated national maternal mortality rate in the United States is about 17 per 100,000 live births, but it is about 43 per 100,000 live births for Black women.
4. Due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is bound to be an increase in unplanned births. A study recently assessed by the CDC states approximately 50% of pregnancies are unintended. Higher proportions of unintended pregnancies occur among the following groups: adolescents and young women, women who are of the racial or ethnic minority, and women with lower levels of education and income.
5. The overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact the foster care system, which is a system that is already in shackles. A recent news report suggests that there are about 500,000 young people in the foster care system each year and Andre Chapman, founder and CEO of San Jose, California-based Unity Care, which supports foster youth, says most children enter the foster care system due to general neglect or poverty. He says if Roe v. Wade is overturned, local and federal agencies need to have contingency plans in place for more children who may enter the foster care system.
The definition of democracy in the United States Constitution is defined as a “government of, by, and for the people.” It is the government of a community in which all citizens, rather than favored individuals or groups, have the right and opportunity to participate. In a democracy, the people are sovereign. The people are the ultimate source of authority.
America, I must tell you, this is not a democracy nor a land governed by the people and for the people. According to Gallup, only 35% of Americans want Roe v. Wade overturned; 58% do not.
The Supreme Court has not only made a decision for the United States, but they have made a decision that may influence the world. Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said in a statement: “It would also set a terrible example that other governments and anti-rights groups could seize upon around the world in a bid to deny the rights of women, girls and other people who can become pregnant.”
The truth is, I am scared of my being in the United States due to the judicial system enforcing legislation that never benefited our rights as a people. In a country where women have never been prioritized, we seem to have many restrictions in all aspects of life. I believe I speak for the democracy that we wish we had in the United States, we will continue to fight the good trouble, and this generation will not take no for answer.