The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that it could overturn Roe v. Wade has put activists and anyone with a modicum of common sense on alert in recent days.
Though still in the wrap, the decision would mean that millions of women in more than half of U.S. states could lose the ability to have an abortion or have their access drastically reduced, NPR explained.
The document, first published by Politico, showed that the Supreme Court has already put the decision to overturn the landmark law to a vote. The draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito is, according to the outlet, a “resounding and unwavering repudiation” of the 1973 decision that secured federal constitutional protection for abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — that largely upheld the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The immediate impact of the ruling, as written in February, would be to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. It is unclear whether there have been subsequent changes to the draft.
However, the Supreme Court’s vote against Roe v. Wade sends a loud and clear message to the country and the entire world: women do not have the right to choose over their own bodies. Instead, any institution controlled by male, white, conservative members can decide for them.
For Erica Goldblatt Hyatt, Associate Professor of Teaching and Interim Director of the DSW Program, who is also an expert in researching the effects of terminating a wanted pregnancy on women and families, the Supreme Court’s decision comes as no surprise.
“Roe was shaky constitutional law, to begin with, and has been well chipped away for decades, so this is not a surprise,” Goldblatt told BELatina. “Ultimately, the decision of when or if a person can get an abortion will be decided by states individually, as representatives of the people.”
When we asked Goldblatt what message the Supreme Court would be sending to all women in the country, her assessment was not far from ours.
“That their bodily autonomy is not their own in the United States. That the decision to have a child or not to have a child will no longer be a personal choice,” she said. “The United States has a history of dictating this — from forcible sterilization to restricting Medicaid funding for paying for abortion. It sends the message that in the United States, the fetus may have more value than the pregnant person, even if that pregnant person is the victim of rape, incest, or devastating fetal anomaly.”
The impact of the Supreme Court decision on the lives of women of color
Social inequalities in the United States are so profound and glaring that it is no need to guess that people of color and other marginalized and low-income demographics will be most affected by overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case.
As USA Today explained, about half of U.S. states, concentrated in the South, Midwest, and Plains, have restrictive abortion laws that would take effect in the event of a reversal. Experts say those most affected will be those who have disproportionate problems accessing health care, often people of color.
More than half of the nation’s black population lives in the South, where women of color, including Latinas, make up a significant proportion. The Plains states also have large Native American populations. A few days ago, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a six-week abortion ban similar to the one adopted by Texas last year.
“These bans affect women of color the most,” Goldblatt explained. “Minoritized people are repeatedly victimized by the government and frequently unable to access timely and effective prenatal care, strong social safety nets to allow for successful parenting and pregnancy, and earlier abortion care.”
“It is women and pregnant people without traditional means that may have to travel to get abortions, leave their jobs, use their savings, and find childcare and lodging in abortion-friendly states. Or they may be forced to access unsafe abortion methods in later trimesters.”
Similarly, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could undermine reproductive rights around the world, especially in Latin America.
The move would “damage the global perception of the United States,” Amnesty International’s secretary-general, Agnès Callamard, said in a statement. It would also “set a terrible example that other governments and anti-rights groups could seize upon around the world in a bid to deny the rights of women, girls, and other people who can become pregnant,” she said.
After all, history has taught us that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold.
All is not lost, however. As Goldblatt concluded, we must now support abortion funds, such as the Brigid Alliance, which help provide funding and transportation to those in need of an abortion. Likewise, there are abortion fund networks across the country that can be tapped. Here is a fairly comprehensive list covering organizations working in every state.