Overturning Roe v. Wade threatens more than just women’s lives

May 30, 2022 — by Hannah Lee
Regardless of gender, age or identity, the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade threatens fundamental human rights and should be taken into serious concern.

On  May 2, the Supreme Court confirmed a draft ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade, potentially severing abortion access in more than a dozen states overnight. The final decision is subject to change when the Supreme Court publishes a final decision in late June or July, when the court releases the majority of decisions for its term. This leaked opinion should be a concern for all, regardless of gender or identity, as it threatens women’s fundamental rights, upending decades-long efforts by activists and lawmakers to reshape legislature, from the individual level to the Constitutional. 

For context, the leaked draft states that five of the nine justices disagree with the 1973 verdict, believing there should be no constitutional right that protects the right to abortion. This means individual states can choose if and when abortions are accessible.

Before Roe v. Wade, some states such as Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin had old laws in place, including limited exceptions to abortion. It is currently unclear whether these laws would automatically go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. However, legislators in 13 states have recently passed “trigger laws” ensuring that abortion bans (on both surgery and pill forms) will go into effect if it is reversed.

Many other states make no exceptions for abortion unless it would save the life of the mother (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee) or unless the pregnancy was the result of incest or rape (Idaho, Kentucky, Wyoming and Utah).

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Texas would officially outlaw abortion, following up its S.B. 8 Bill last fall.

The possibility of Roe. being overturned could initiate trigger laws in more states, resulting in consequences that not only question the civil liberties the Constitution ensures, but also question the progress regarding these liberal rights being made on the state and federal levels. 

An article published by Politico states that five of nine judges (two of whom have been accused of sexual misconduct) have voted in favor of overturning Roe., giving politicians the power to strip women of their bodily autonomy and right to privacy.  This brings light to a larger issue concerning the start of dismantling civil, fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court’s actions and arguments over fundamental rights is of concern because we are moving backward in what should be considered an era of advancement and equality in the U.S.

Aside from the predominantly white male majority that voted to overturn Roe., white male voices in general have dominated the debate over abortion access. According to data from axios, the majority of recent social media posts and press releases from Republicans in Congress that had the word“abortion” were all from men except one, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Men claim to be experts of women and attempt to curb their bodily rights. 

Despite the domination and overpowering of white, powerful men in the discussion of abortion rights, a poll conducted last week by Washington Post and ABC News found that 54% of Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade, while only 28% support overturning it. When broken down by party, it showed that 75% of Democrats, 53% of independents and 36% of Republicans want the ruling to remain in place. This means that the lack of extreme push back against the Supreme Court possibly overturning Roe. can be attributed to the lack of broad and vocal support, stigma and fear.

For instance, many men believe they don’t have a part in speaking out against abortion rights because they want to “stay in their lane,” or because they see abortion as solely a woman’s issue. However, in talks about body autonomy and equality in the 21st century, abortion rights should be a concern for men too. 

And while many say abortion rights are simply a reproductive health issue, Roe affects more than just that. The overturning of Roe could result in other problems, such as damaging effects on the economy.

According to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, who testified on the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s annual report on systemic risks to the financial sector, Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, helped lead to increased labor force participation and enabled many women to finish school, increasing their earning potential. This had a favorable impact on the wellbeing and earnings of their children and future generations to come.

Furthermore, this causes concern on a federal level, especially when it comes to abortion pills (mifepristoe and misoprostol) that are accessible outside of the formal healthcare system. These organizations, which are typically located outside of the U.S.,provide abortion medication that are not subject to the same enforcement, which can cause problems federally.

Concerned citizens can prevent potential consequences if Roe v. Wade is overturned by contacting state and federal lawmakers to encourage them to codify Roe v. Wade into a constitutional and statutory law. Individuals can also continue to show support for underprivileged people of color who are the most heavily impacted by the court ruling. Furthermore, those who have the ability to vote should vote for leaders who are pro-choice and promise to preserve civil rights. 

Meanwhile, anyone who cares for economic and racial justice should voice their opinion against striking down Roe v. Wade. It should not be a time to call for “civility” when such a ruling acts against it, especially in an evolving time where bodily autonomy and freedom are in question.


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