Over the last few centuries, women have had to endure many personal issues to determine their rights as a human being and these rights were usually fundamental rights. It should not be forgotten that while men were voting, women had to fight for their rights to vote and did not gain this until several years later. There is always an interference in the woman’s life, a question of whether she should bear or beget, does she have the kind of preparation that it takes to make certain decisions? Then came the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in Roe v Wade — 410 US 113 which was handed down on Jan. 22, 1973, whereby the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States would give a pregnant woman the right to have an abortion and it would protect her without interference or limited amount of interference from the government. Women felt empowered by this decision. A “right to privacy” for any woman in America. This was the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Finally, after centuries of struggles, Roe v Wade gave a pregnant woman a choice to determine what she does with her own body.
Although the law was not completely defined, it gave women some freedom about a very personal decision. Roe v Wade also provided laws to protect the health of the woman and went even further and considered the prenatal life. This was a fundamental right for any woman in America to make. A decision for herself and whenever the entire family needed to be involved in the decision as well. A pregnant woman now has a reproductive right with reproductive care. It took many generations of women to reach the Supreme Court with the argument and received a ruling in their favor. However, Roe v Wade had some restrictions on the reproductive process and so the ruling was never a matter only for women’s right.
The overturning of the case on Friday, June 24, 2022, after weeks of speculation when the Supreme Court released the long-awaited result, this still surprised millions of Americans including women, and young girls more than anyone else. What is the argument? This means that women in America will no longer have legal national right to have an abortion. That national right is now taken away. The judge who wrote that opinion was Justice Samuel Alito. A five to four decision, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Clarence Thomas in the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote his own opinion in favor of a Mississippi law banning abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy, but sided with Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan who voted to uphold Roe v Wade. With all of this announced by the Supreme Court, it is now up to the states to bear the burden of the woman. There are some states that have already decided that they will not bear the burden and have re-enforced anti-abortion laws to continue to strike against abortion rights or any law in favor of abortion rights. In Texas, for example, it is a crime to have an abortion. In the state of Louisiana doctors who perform abortions would get a ten-year prison sentence.
New York state has long been a supporter of abortion rights since 1970, three years before Roe v Wade. In 2019 New York also passed the Reproductive Health Act. New York Governor, Kathy Hochul reminded activists on June 24 of the state bill passed earlier this month with state legislators, to protect abortion providers. Governor Hochul made it clear that the New York law includes that the abortion happens at the end of a 24-week pregnancy; that the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life and that there is an absence of “fetal viability” or the ability for the fetus to survive outside the womb. In addition, the governor announced that the bill also grants immunity to abortion doctors in the state who may be at risk of lawsuits in other states, which empowers individuals to sue providers in other states. In Rhode Island shortly after the overturning of the Roe v Wade, local politicians became confrontational with each other. Now that the individual state is in control of abortion rights, the states must enact laws to protect women especially the most vulnerable women.
This is hard for women and as politicians, legal experts and advocates for women rights who realized that what they have had for years as a constitutional right is now taken away. Abortion activists remain undeterred and called for less restrictions on abortion rights. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which helps support the reproductive health of thousands of women and provide well needed services to these women pledged continued support to help protect access to safe legal abortion and reproductive rights. The organization sees this as a fight, for almost fifty years they have embraced the abortion rights law to uphold it to continue to serve the pregnant women who need them. The overturning is a setback for women rights and will be a stressful time for women who need to go through with this procedure.
Roe v Wade has been a divided issue for Americans ever since the idea was considered and this opposition has only grown stronger over the years. Be reminded that in 1965, the Supreme Court struck down a law which banned the distribution of birth control to married couples. The Court stated then that the law violated persons unified right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution. This is thought provoking, that although the law is there to protect the pregnant woman, it was also working against the woman.
A pregnant woman needs good medical care in the critical moments when she must go through with her procedures. For many women, it was the abortion or suicide. After Friday’s announcement coming out of the Supreme Court, I watched many women cried and emotions ran high for so many of them. A pregnant woman does have the right to determine if she should decide over her own body or not. Women have abortions to save their lives depending on the medical reports of the doctors, but they also have abortions to save the lives of their other children as economic constraints prevent her from having another child. Women have abortions when the odds are against them, medical problems, or economic difficulties. Imagine a fifteen-year-old girl been raped by even her own father or incest what should the parents of the 15-year-old do? Birth control, and abortion should always be accessible to every woman who thinks she needs it. Legal abortion is needed to regulate the sale of dangerous drugs that women could use to induce abortions. Do not dismiss that these drugs have sometimes proved fatal for women, but the legalization of abortion would prevent this fear.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on June 24, to walk back the law and overturn Roe v Wade puts more pressure on the system to provide abortion locally. Abortion can only get more dangerous. It is an assault on women and for Black women with low income who are already at a disadvantage, this will not be easy on them. Already, if they decided to give birth to their babies, maternal mortality face them whenever they are in the hospitals. In New York for example access to midwifery care in birthing facilities will have to be fully funded whether by state funds or private funds to always provide great care for these pregnant women. This ruling against abortion rights at a national level could wreak-havoc on New York state health facilities. However, as Governor Hochul stated. clinics will be prepared for these patients seeking abortion care. This is critical for women especially for who are unaware of the helpful sources that are available to them.
Walking around with a bunch of impoverished children is not the most pleasant sight for anyone especially for a mother who cares about other mothers. Legal abortion is necessary. Think of the woman who could carry around a nine-month pregnancy after been raped and she still lives at home with her husband and children. Does the husband feel ashamed of his wife? How does the couple tell their children about their new sibling?
What will Black women who are poor coming in from another state do when she has never been to a metropolitan city such as New York before? Who receives her and help her find that clinic while she thinks of the other three or four children that she left behind hundreds of miles away? This will create harsh financial problems for poor women. The time to continue the fight for reproductive health and safe care is now. It is a challenge, and Roe v Wade is overturned allowing women to put themselves at risk all over again. What can women say on this very personal issue? We must care about the woman’s input.