ROE V. WADE: IS THE CONSTITUTION ALWAYS RIGHT?

*DISCLAIMER: This article is simply an opinion piece on the information I have gathered thus far surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Abortion rights have been a hotly debated topic and I am simply giving my perception of it based on my own circumstances. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below*

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction, legalizing abortion in the United States. For about half a century, this ruling has been contested under the pretenses that abortion should be considered murder, and along with that, has brought up terms such as “age of viability”, “eugenic termination”, and of course, “pro-choice”/”pro-life”. There are countless arguments on both sides and most people piously adhere to one opinion. Although I do hold personal views, I also understand the importance of hearing the other side and considering the strengths of their arguments.

Over the past year, like many political topics, the conversation around abortion has become far more inflamed. The decisive measure which sparked outrage across the country, a radical abortion ban, Texas’s Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8), first came into effect on September 1st, 2021. This bill bans abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant. In addition, the ban enacts a “sue thy neighbor” law which “allows….anyone to sue people involved in providing abortion care or practical support to patients in Texas and win judgments of $10,000 or more.” (Guttmacher Institute). The failure to stop S.B. 8 from passing allowed for the introduction of other states to enact similar bills which go against Roe v. Wade. Now, we see the narrative which has led to the resolution plastered across media outlets everywhere over the past few weeks: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state of Mississippi passed a law that “prohibits all abortions, with few exceptions, after 15 weeks’ gestational age” (Oyez) and asks that Supreme Court outrightly to overturn Roe v. Wade. What is most shocking to the public, it seems, is the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court which completely repudiates the abortion rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. With three new Supreme Court justices commonly expressing views against reproductive rights — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — the idea of Roe v. Wade being completely toppled is quickly becoming a possibility.

The basis of the draft opinion by Justice Alito cites the Constitution as a reason for the remediation, saying “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” (SCOTUS Initial Draft). Essentially, after nearly fifty years of precedent, the ideals of a Constitution signed in the eighteenth century are now threatening not only the rights but the lives of women across the country. The draft incites the following arguments against Roe v. Wade:

  1. “It imposed the same highly restrictive regime on the entire Nation, and it effectively struck down the abortion laws of every single State.”
  2. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such rights must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.'”
  3. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.”

All in all, the resolution proposed to overturn Roe v. Wade, seems to me, to follow a very narrow scope. By focusing only on the rights guaranteed in the US Constitution, our country moves backward toward a time that largely disregarded the nuanced perspective of access to abortion and women’s healthcare. Even in 1973, it seems the Supreme Court was able to recognize the importance of prioritizing these matters by molding the Constitution to protect the rights of over half the population: “This right of privacy… is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care…” (Opinion of the Court in Roe v. Wade). Yes, the right to choose was not given to women in the 1787 version of the US Constitution, and although this historical document serves as a framework for society and the certain unalienable rights bestowed upon citizens, is it really fair to dismantle safe, legal abortion on the grounds of strictly adhering to prior rules? The data on abortion proves its place in society, relating to refined aspects of society like race, education level, sexuality, disability, and socioeconomic status. In a comprehensive sense, “access to legal, professionally-preformed abortions reduces maternal injury and death caused by unsafe, illegal abortions” (Procon), while also decreasing mental health problems in women. These cases benefit mothers who are not ready or capable of bringing a child to term. However, women that are denied access to abortion, “are more likely to become unemployed, to be on public welfare, to be below the poverty line, and to become victims of domestic violence.” (ProCon). The overturn of Roe v. Wade would be based upon a Constitution written by white men in a time where illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy-related deaths in the United States. Even under Roe, systematic racism, ongoing white supremacy, and coercive reproductive policies affect access to abortion. Limiting this access further would disproportionately harm “communities facing systemic barriers to health care — such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities; people in rural communities; immigrants; people with disabilities; LGBTQ+ people; and people struggling to make ends meet” (Planned Parenthood).

The question remaining is: when will we stop relying on the blinded ideals of ancient standards to dictate the lives of women? As a teenager, I do not feel equipped to speak on the issue at large. I have never experienced pregnancy or motherhood. Nonetheless, I do know that these experiences are in my future and for some girls my age, are very much part of their present circumstances. Every mother’s story is completely unique, and for most, decisions made around terminating a pregnancy are not taken lightly. If Roe v. Wade is overturned this June, and states are allowed to decide their individual stance on abortion, it is not uncertain that panic, chaos, and genuine fear would become the prominent sentiments guiding many women’s lives. A state cannot ban abortion, they can simply ban safe abortion. The next few months will decide with certainty whether the landmark Roe v. Wade case will be overturned, and along with that, the following years will present the likely terrifying manifestations of this decision in the lives of women and society as a whole.

” Pregnancy has unique physical demands and risks for women, even just being pregnant changes your life, having a child changes your life tremendously. All of these things change everything about your life, your family, your ability to have a job, to just live in this world.” -Julie Rikelman (Lawyer Defending Abortion Rights at SCOTUS)

HAPPY ADVOCATING

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU READ UP ON THE PROCEEDINGS OF THIS CASE AND THE IMPLICATIONS IT HAS ON ACCESS TO ABORTION AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS. HERE ARE SOME SOURCES TO BEGIN WITH:

  1. (Original Leak): ‘Supreme Court Has Voted to Overturn Abortion Rights, Draft Opinion Shows’ (Politico)
  2. Roe v. Wade at Risk: Nationwide Legal Abortion May Be a Thing of the Past‘ (Planned Parenthood)
  3. ‘Should Abortion Be Legal?’ (ProCon)
  4. ‘Impact of Texas’ Abortion Ban: A 14-Fold Increase in Driving Distance to Get an Abortion’ (Guttmacher Institute)
  5. ‘The Lawyer Who Defended Abortion Rights at SCOTUS Explains What It Was Like’ (Slate)
  6. ‘Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’ (Oyez)
  7. ‘What are the Ramifications of Overturning Roe v Wade?’ (Aljazeera)

Published by Ria Pai

Hi let me introduce myself. I was born and have lived my entire life in a beach area as a child of two amazing parents who immigrated to America from India. I love art, music and writing so I try to combine the three. I enjoy deep conversations on a number of topics from politics, to friendships, to fashion. I’m a natural perfectionist, but sometimes find this to be a bit overwhelming. I love mangos, dark chocolate and tea. I make art whenever I get the chance…painting, songwriting, dancing, and writing are all forms of art to me. Since I live in a warm area, I cannot stand any weather that is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and always find a way to swim in anything from pools to the ocean. I have one dog, a Lhasa Apso who I am envious of because he does nothing but eat, sleep, and lay around all day. I experiment with my style. I am horrible at geography and sitting still, and it’s not uncommon to find me with paint all over my hands. I like to wear bold clothing and I always find a way to wear the same white sneakers with any outfit I can. Hi, my name is Ria, nice to meet you.

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