The Threatening of Abortion Rights in America: The Potential Revoking of Roe v. Wade
via Gayatri Malhotra
Abortion is a necessary right for people in countries all over the world, and unfortunately, The United States is another country preparing to strip that right away. Since abortion rights have been under attack for hundreds of years, it was no shocker — but still an angering revelation— when in early May, a 98-page document releasing the Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked. Abortion is a procedure that ends or terminates a pregnancy and Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the United States. However now, the law that protects the rights of millions of pregnant individuals is being threatened.
*For more information on abortion and its importance check out our article, “Why Abortion Should be Legal”
What Happens If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, this means abortion rights would vary depending on the state and they wouldn’t be nationally protected. Since the decision for legal abortion would be on a state-to-state basis, some states can decide to criminalize abortions, stripping the right away from many pregnant people. Currently, abortion remains legal in every state but some states purposely make or are attempting to make the conditions for abortions essentially unrealistic with terms such as you can only terminate the abortion within 6 weeks— which is generally when women start showing symptoms. Fortunately, some states have begun making provisions to help serve women who live in states that are likely to restrict abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which closely monitors states laws, reports that 25 states are likely to ban or further limit abortions if they are allowed including:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
However, some predictions include other states such as Florida, Iowa, and Montana. Thirteen states even have “trigger laws” making abortion illegal immediately if Roe v. Wade was reversed. This is frightening as, without any say, the reproductive rights of millions of pregnant people could be revoked in the blink of an eye. Some states also attempt to use Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws to impose regulations targeted specifically at abortion clinics that go beyond what is necessary to ensure patient safety as a method to limit access to abortion. These can also be a form of trigger laws.
Many of the states predicted to restrict abortions already have extremely limited access to abortion care and without Roe v. Wade, many people would no longer have available access to abortion services at all. People in these states would have to travel to another state to have the procedure completed if they so desired. This prevents pregnant individuals who are poor and unable to travel long distances from having their needs met. Also, if they are too poor to travel and have an abortion, how can they be expected to properly financially support a child? The revoking of reproductive rights therefore especially targets those who are poor (which make up a large population of people receiving abortions).
What’s Being Done to Prevent the Loss of Abortion Rights?
After the leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer set a vote to take up a bill that would codify abortion rights into federal law. If passed, the bill would protect nationwide abortion access but with the impending 60 votes it would need to receive, this seems unlikely (Update: legislation failed to push forward). However, according to polls, the majority of Americans favor some form of legal abortion meaning this could lead to a decline in support for Republicans in office who may revoke these rights.
The legislation currently being pushed by Democrats in office—the Women’s Health Protection Act—would give health care workers the right to provide abortion services. While the naming of the act is exclusive in its gender-specific language (gender-inclusive was removed to make the bill more palatable to moderate lawmakers in both democratic and republican parties), it still stands as, hopefully, a step forward toward continuing to protect the reproductive rights of pregnant individuals. This act would also go further than simply protecting abortion rights as it would prevent mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, and requirements that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The legislation would also allow courts to consider whether a restriction would infringe on abortion rights such as increasing the cost of providing or obtaining abortion services.
The Republican alternative to this act— the Reproductive Choice Act— would also attempt to codify Roe v. Wade but reproductive rights activists claim the bill “leaves too much unsaid and lacks clear guidance about what states can and cannot do” as the legislation simply declares states “may not impose an undue burden on the ability of a woman to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability.” This language does not explicitly ban prohibitions on abortions or abortion methods. For example, this legislation does not prevent prohibitions such as the Mississippi law currently before the Supreme Court that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
How Can We Protect Roe V. Wade?
So now that you’re aware of what state officials are doing, what can we do to help protect reproductive rights? First, I know it’s a frightening reality for many, so know the laws in your state! Staying informed is important so that we can speak up to our elected officials. Planned Parenthood, a powerful organization in support of abortion rights, provides many helpful resources on how you educated yourself and advocate for reproductive rights. Currently, they are organizing rallies in various states and have a petition you can sign. Additionally, many organizations are fighting for reproductive rights that you can help with a simple donation or by sharing their work.
Donating to an abortion fund right now is crucial. Donating is one of the best things you can do to take action as many organizations help arrange and pay for abortion care for patients who need it. These funds can also contribute to those who may have to travel long distances or even cross state lines to access health care. Taking extra care to contribute to hostile states where lawmakers may try to prohibit abortion is important in ensuring everyone is receiving the access to the healthcare they deserve.
We all must take action, speak up, and work toward protecting abortion rights! Abortion should continue being legal as everyone has a right to one. Check out the resources below to find more ways you can get involved in the protection of necessary rights!
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Featured Image via Gayatri Malhotra