A Step Backward for Women’s Rights

The Supreme Court’s revisiting of Roe v. Wade poses a large threat to women’s reproductive rights.

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By Yume Igarashi

In the case Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling in favor of extending the 14th Amendment to protect women’s choice to have an abortion on January 22, 1973. Since then, debates over abortion have remained prominent, with the pro-life movement aiming to revoke 50 years of progress for women. Recently, Mississippi enacted a new law that aims to ban most abortions following 15 weeks of pregnancy, violating the ruling under Roe and leading to the Supreme Court agreeing to revisit the case next term. With a 6-3 conservative majority, the Supreme Court has the greatest chance in history to revoke the right to pre-viable abortion.

A reversal of Roe v. Wade would mean that states could ban abortion at very early stages. The Center for Reproductive Rights found that over 20 states would ban abortion entirely, which would be a major step backward for the women’s rights movement. Abortion is usually a last resort or a necessary measure for women. Banning abortion poses a threat to both the child and mother. In many cases, abortion is needed if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s health or for fetal anomalies. Pregnancy can be extremely strenuous on the mother and fatal in cases in which the mother has an underlying health crisis. Additionally, in cases of sexual assault, bearing that child can have extreme psychological effects on the mother.

However, many conservatives still rhetorically maintain the viability of abortion under these circumstances; the real debate lies with cases where health or sexual assault is not a concern. The most common reason for abortion is the mother’s unpreparedness or inability to take care of a child. Seventy-three percent of women reported that financial inability to raise a child was one of their reasons for having an abortion, while nearly 32 percent stated they simply were not ready. An unwanted child can cause health problems for the mother and child due to the inability to afford a doctor or food. Raising a child is a stressful, expensive, and difficult process, and it is unfair to expect every woman who accidentally gets pregnant to undergo this process, especially when it often requires the mother to sacrifice her own education, job, or life.

A popular argument against this point is that the mother can simply put the child up for adoption or in the foster care system if she is unable to care for the child. However, that possibility is not always a viable option. The adoption and foster systems are already overwhelmed with children, as nearly 440 thousand children are in the foster care system in the United States alone. Even worse, less than half of the children put up for adoption get adopted; children who do often face mental health issues and struggle with identity and separation from their birth parents.

These arguments would not do much to convince someone who truly believes abortion is murder otherwise. Many believe that life begins at conception and that fetuses at any stage should be considered human. Yet despite this belief, the majority of those against abortion have no problem with in vitro fertilization (IVF), which involves donating embryos for scientific study and results in the destruction of millions of embryos. Compared to the 49 percent of Americans who believe abortion is morally wrong, only 12 percent oppose IVF morally. As pro-life Alabama Senator Clyde Chambliss stated, “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.” It’s not really a matter of every embryo being sacred human life—it’s about controlling women’s bodies.

Finally, it’s important to consider that banning abortions does not prevent them; it simply makes them more dangerous. Abortions will still occur even with a reversal of Roe v. Wade, but rather than receiving them properly at a clinic, many women will instead choose self-induced abortions or go to someone without the necessary skill to perform them. In countries where abortion is banned, 61 percent of all unintended pregnancies ended in induced abortions. These induced abortions pose countless health concerns, including infection, hemorrhaging, and injury to internal organs.

Abortion is a necessary right, and the possible reversal of Roe v. Wade will only make things worse for women with unwanted pregnancies. It is more important now than ever to lobby and protest for women’s reproductive rights. Spreading awareness on social media, attending rallies, and writing to representatives are ways to show support for the pro-choice movement. Though it is ultimately the Supreme Court’s decision, if enough people are fighting for the right to abortion, our voices will be heard. Now is not the time to take a step backward in history.