Last updated on May 7, 2022
A draft of a Supreme Court opinion, penned by conservative justice Samuel Alito was recently leaked. This draft suggests that the court is planning to overrule Roe V Wade, which was established in 1973.
Both opponents and supporters of abortion had anticipated that the Supreme Court would vote to overrule Roe V Wade however, the leaked draft sparked outrage and anguish on both sides of the polarized issue.
The respected news and analyst site Scotusblog commented in a tweet that it was, “impossible to overstate the earthquake this will cause inside the court, in terms of the destruction of trust among the justices and staff. This leak is the gravest, most unforgivable sin.”
It is important to note that it is still possible for the court’s votes to shift; however, if the court rules in favor of the leaked document, the results will be swift and calamitous.
Since there is a lack of federal law protecting or prohibiting abortion, the regulations would be entirely dependent on the government of individual states.
Nearly half of all states would implement laws that completely ban or severely restrict access to abortion. Many of these laws do not consider cases of incest or rape as viable for abortion either.
For marginalized communities, the effects of anti-abortion policies would be especially catastrophic. Elizabeth Nash, the principal policy associate for state issues at the Guttmacher Institute argues, “abortion restrictions exacerbate logistical and financial obstacles for marginalized communities, such as racial minorities, low-income people, and people in rural communities. Further rollbacks of abortion rights will only increase the burdens on these populations.”
Despite the heated emotions around the matter, statistics point to an interesting conclusion. A poll conducted by Gallup, an analytics company located in Washington, D.C., found that only nineteen percent of people in the US think abortion should be illegal under any circumstance. This is part of the reason so many have felt infuriated over the ruling, it is not representative of the will of the majority.
“Questions about the court’s legitimacy are more pitched than they have ever been for before” commented Melissa Murray, a professor of law at New York University. Should the court overrule Roe, she added, it will represent a turning point signaling that “the court has been weaponized for political purposes” (New York Times).
Public opinion of the court is not flattering. Another poll conducted in September by Gallup found that just 40% of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing. That is the lowest rating since 2000 when they first began to ask the question.
So who gets abortions? According to CDC data from 2019, six in 10 women who get abortions are already mothers and half of them have two or more children. These women are often near or below the poverty line and have limited resources. Abortions offer a way to exercise control over their bodies and have more energy to enrich the lives of their children.
Many of the states with strict abortion regulations also have limited social support for mothers such as access to family planning services and paid leave (New York Times).
If Roe v Wade is overruled countless women from marginalized communities will be forced to bear a child and rely on a perilously thin social safety net. The sense of misery this experience will cause is almost palpable.
Before abortion was legalized many women sought to terminate their pregnancies by any means possible whether it be coat-hangers, dangerous chemicals, unskilled abortion providers, or other alarming methods.
In the 1960s, Cook County Hospital in Chicago treated over 4,000 women each year for life-threatening effects caused by illegal abortion (New York Times). Sadly, this troubling past of desperation may soon become a reality.
Overruling Roe v Wade would not only be disastrous for low-income communities, it erodes the very equality we as Americans seek to uphold. Women’s bodies should not be the battlegrounds of political agendas.
As the sun rises and dusk settles upon our country each day, it becomes glaringly clear that the very foundations of our once sacred beliefs regarding the purity of the law are cracking. The Supreme Court, once a beacon of light in a time of shadows and corruption slowly has become insidious itself. And as time goes by the collective feeling on both sides of the contentious political landscape begins to fear that democracy as we know it is unraveling.
Roe v Wade may be a singular precedent however, what it represents is so much greater than that. The power to determine the actions we do and do not make regarding our bodies. The instant that precious ability is compromised, America has plunged into a sea of horrors.