.MY BODY . MY CHOICE.

The Leaked Draft:


On Monday, May 2, 2022 a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked stating that it would overturn the Roe v Wade ruling, thus destroying what has been a federally protected right for almost 50 years. The decision to allow or criminalize abortions would be left in the hands of the states, 13 of which have "trigger laws" which would ban abortions within weeks, with other restrictions and bans across the country to follow quickly.


The fight for abortion rights in the United States has been long and arduous, beginning roughly in the mid 19th century with the creation of the American Medical Association (AMA), a male-domintated group of physicians who-among other things-all but disposed of the fields of midwifery and obstetrics while at the same time deciding the members of their organization alone were the arbiters of abortion access. This led to the criminalization of abortions and by the early 20th century every state had laws to regulate and control abortion, severally restricting who was eligible (Planned Parenthood Historical Abortion Law Timeline ).


The unsettling rise in deaths due to unsafe, illegal abortion combined with increasing access to the media meant that the issue of limited abortion rights gained national attention in the 1950s and by the late 1960s and early 1970s there were a number of victories for abortion rights activists including the creation of NARAL, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. As a result a number of states repealed its ban on abortion.


This increasing attention and awareness led to the 1973 landmark case Roe v Wade in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution protects the right to an abortion. This groundbreaking decision allowed for safer and more widespread access the country for women to obtain an abortion.


The Threat to Our Constitutional Liberties:


So what happens when the Supreme Court starts to take away our Constitutional rights?


Though the Roe v Wade ruling continues to stand, its legacy has been challenged for decades in and out of the courts (Planned Parenthood v Casey, 1992, Gonzalez v Planned Parenthood, 2007 among others). While Alito’s draft is only that-a draft-the significance of overturning the Roe ruling is dangerous and immeasurable.


Abortion rights are protected by the 14th amendment which states under the due process (fair procedures) clause that “that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The Court decided that the Due Process Clause protects implied rights-ones that aren’t specifically listed in the Constitution. In Roe v. Wade, “the Court ruled that this right to privacy included a woman's decision to have an abortion…”(PBS-Due Process Clause).


Liberty not only refers to freedom in itself but also to the ability to access those freedoms. If this comes to pass low income households and those in Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities will struggle more to find safe abortion access than those who are in higher socio-economic stations. It will be difficult and often feel impossible to take off work, pay for childcare, and find reliable transportation to travel out-of-state to an abortion clinic.


Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics, Lenae Erickson stated succinctly that “The Supreme Court is about to say we don’t have liberty or bodily autonomy…{and} that is astounding.” Bodily autonomy means more than the reproductive choices we make. It can refer to who we marry, who we choose to sleep with, or even our use of birth control.


When the Supreme Court starts to take away our constitutional liberties we face the threat of the collapse of our democracy. The loss of one unenumerated right means that others are in grave danger.



Call to Action:

There are many ways to fight what feels like the failings of American democracy. 6 in 10 U.S. adults say that abortions should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. This means that as abortion rights advocates we are part of a thriving community despite what the media may portray.


  • Publicly show support for abortion rights and abortion access. Educate others on why this is important and make sure people understand that abortions still are legal.



  • Voting matters. State and local elections are incredibly important and frequently overlooked, but those elected to your state legislature will be the ones deciding to limit or expand our rights beyond abortion access if Roe v Wade is overturned. Midterm elections are upon us; with this very real threat to our liberty nothing is more crucial than educating ourselves on the candidates running, getting out to vote, and encouraging others to show up at the polls.


Onward


The motivation behind this opinion and those like it is not necessarily about morality, religion, or even life and death. It is about a feeble patriarchy grasping to maintain its control over women. It is about the fear of losing its weakening power in a nation it had always dominated.


In a recent interview longtime writer and political activist Gloria Steinem offers this:


“[This will have] a huge impact…on women…we have to be able to make decisions about our own physical selves…this will always be a fight while we live in a patriarchy…And we can just refuse to be intimidated by the protestations of a losing minority.”


So we fight on.



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