Overturning of Roe v Wade - Its History and What It Means for the Future
February 16th, 2023
Throughout American history, rights have never been given freely, largely hard-fought
and won through the people’s voice. The 1973 landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade,
which ruled that the constitution protected the right to an abortion, exemplifies that. However, this case has also demonstrated just how easily people can lose their rights, depending on, or even in spite of, the political stances taken by the general public. In June of 2022, Roe v. Wade was struck down by a majority opinion of 6-3, and every woman across the country felt the change that was to come.
Leading up to the ruling, anti-abortion/pro-life advocacy was largely pushed by far right
conservatives and religious fundamentalist. The issue has been a hot topic since the original
consensus decided upon by the Supreme Court in 1973, and for decades, states–particularly
Texas–skirted around protections by way of heartbeat laws, mandatory 24 hour counseling
before abortions, and medically unnecessary ultrasounds. Until the 2022 ruling, nine states had “trigger laws” ready to go into effect once the case was struck down: Alabama, Arizona,
Michigan, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. Yet, in spite of this apparent wave of anti-abortion sentiment among the states, the majority of Americans, 61% in fact, believe that abortion should be legal in all or most situations.
For the better half of a century, women have been fighting for equality. We can now vote,
hold jobs, get divorced—yet ultimately, the most major factor in determining our freedom of movement, of independence, is bodily autonomy. Childbirth is a beautiful part of nature, but it has historically been the primary tool of control and oppression for women, and is a key factor in their ability to make choices. Abortion offers pregnant women the ability to decide their own fate; to prioritize their career and their independence. Parenthood is nothing short of the biggest change a person can experience in their life, and requires an unfathomable amount of sacrifice. If abortion becomes illegal, many women, but particularly those from poor backgrounds, will be forced to give up their economic independence, putting their autonomy at risk and coming with the unfortunate side-effect of many seeking the procedure outside of the law. What pro-life advocates fail to understand is that criminalizing abortions doesn’t decrease their frequency; it only encourages more women to seek the procedure illegally, or under unsafe conditions.
Just after the ruling was announced, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argued
for the reconsideration of past landmark cases, including the right to obtain contraceptives,
engage in private sex acts, and to marry someone of the same sex. The threat he poses in his
line of questioning has been decried by many as frightening, and with the basic right to life and liberty now at stake, the issue has become more relevant than ever before, even to those
unable to carry children. If women cannot maintain the right to choose what happens to their bodies, then there is little reason to think anybody else will be able to.