By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
A draft opinion of the Supreme Court was leaked earlier this week, detailing the reasoning of the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — two landmark cases that largely decided the constitutional protection over abortion. While this decision is not final and the opinions of the court may change before a final ruling, overturning Roe and Casey sets a dangerous precedent for the future of America.
Overturning Roe will not immediately ban abortion; it will just return the issue to the states to decide on its status. I am a huge believer in states’ rights, but I am an even bigger believer in personal liberty and the right to make choices for your own life.
Freedom is a key tenet of America, and it’s the job of the federal government to protect individual liberties because, as we have seen in the past, individual states have had laws that infringed upon personal liberties and civil rights. Jim Crow laws were seen in many southern states, restricting the rights of Black citizens until the Civil Rights Act made the states protect the rights of all citizens. Many states restricted gay marriage and even had laws banning homosexual acts until Obergefell v. Hodges and Lawrence v. Texas made these states end their discriminatory laws.
Medical freedom and the ability to make decisions over your own life and body should be a right protected by the federal government to ensure states do not infringe on personal liberty. In America, you should have the freedom to make whatever choices you want for your life and body. Period. It is un-American to make that choice for someone else and to force them to do something they don’t want to do. Ultimately, the only factor in whether or not an abortion should happen is whether or not the woman wants one.
Making this choice for someone else is not only un-American but also cruel. Currently, many states, such as Texas, have “trigger laws” that will become law if Roe is overturned. Under Texas’ law, which would go into effect 30 days after the final high court decision, performing an abortion at any point is a felony with life imprisonment and fines up to $100,000 as punishment. The law only makes exceptions if the life of the mother is endangered.
There are no exceptions for rape, incest or if the pregnancy isn’t viable. This means a woman will be forced to carry the baby of her rapist or abuser to term, which can cause extreme trauma and distress. It’s also cruel and traumatic to force a woman to carry and deliver a baby with fatal birth defects who will die shortly after being born.
Many parts of the pro-life argument are flawed. It’s easy for them to suggest putting children up for adoption, but it is important to note the foster care system in America is also very flawed. Just because a child is put into this system does not mean they will find a home. There are currently over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S., and children in foster care are four times more likely to be a victim of sexual abuse, with children in group homes being 28 times more likely.
Furthermore, abortion laws often have more impact on people in lower classes. Low-income women are five times more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy, and unplanned pregnancies leading to higher rates of poverty, more family instability and worse results for children. Wealthy women have more access to abortion, as they can simply travel to a state where it is legal.
Abortion laws will only continue the cycle of poverty in America. To actually reduce the number of abortions, the root cause of abortion must be addressed. Pro-lifers: To reduce the number of abortions, you must first address poverty, make contraceptives and birth control free and more widely available and invest in comprehensive sex education.
Additionally, banning abortion will do little to actually stop abortion. Statistics show that countries with legal abortion and countries where it is illegal have similar rates of abortion. The difference is that people in places where it’s illegal will attempt to perform the abortion themselves or get one from an unlicensed doctor, which is extremely dangerous and could result in the death of the person seeking an abortion. A study that was published in 2018 found that around 20,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions. Banning abortion in the U.S. could lead to more deaths, which is hardly pro-life.
Finally, Roe and Casey do not only deal with abortion. The cases were decided based on the constitutional right to privacy and personal autonomy. As I discussed earlier, this is imperative to American freedom.
Not only is it imperative to freedom, but many other cases after Roe were decided based on the precedent it set. Up until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, it was illegal to engage in consensual sexual acts with someone of the same sex in Texas. Up until Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, gay marriage was not legal in many states. Both of these cases were decided based on Roe’s precedent. Overturning Roe removes that precedent, leaving both cases open to be overturned as well.
While Justice Samuel Alito said in the draft that the Court considers the rights granted in these cases to be different from Roe and isn’t considering overturning them, this does not mean these cases cannot be overturned in the future. The issue is that overturning Roe leaves these cases vulnerable, which in turn puts LGBTQ+ rights in danger.
The deciding factor in why Roe and Casey are constitutional is based on rights to privacy and personal autonomy over one’s choices for their body and life. This absolutely includes abortion. In America, we are supposed to have freedom and autonomy over our lives. Overturning Roe infringes on those rights, is cruel and inhumane and sets an extremely dangerous precedent for the future of America.