On May 2, a leaked document revealed the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the historic Roe v. Wade ruling. The majority draft opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito. This revelation is horrifying, signifying a possible reversal of the right many have fought tirelessly to maintain.
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 is a 1973 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court making it possible for people to legally obtain abortions without extreme government interference.
This news was broken by Politico on May 2. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito wrote.
Each state would be be able to ban, or decide to implement tight restrictions, around abortion. The decision is not yet set in stone.
There has been an attack on the right to choose for decades, with a more recent instance taking place in Mississippi in December 2021. The Mississippi abortion law sought to make all abortions after 15 weeks illegal. This hinged on the idea of fetal viability, which is a fetus’ ability to live outside of the uterus. According to the New York Times, medical experts believe viability begins at around 24 weeks.
Mississippi attempted to enact the abortion law in 2018, but was quickly overruled by the Supreme Court. They were undoubtedly emboldened by Texas, whose governor, Greg Abott, signed an abortion ban in September 2021.
The two laws signed by Gov. Abbot aimed to make reproductive autonomy all the more unattainable: the first banned abortions after 6 weeks, making it possible for any private individual to sue those believed to help an abortion seeker get care, as well as as providers, while the other would illegalize abortion.
“It’s unusually cruel and intended to intimidate physicians and other clinic staff out of providing abortion for fear of facing frivolous lawsuits and court orders shutting their doors,” Planned Parenthood shared of Abbott’s laws a press release. By going after professionals, Texas made its pro-life grip even more unyielding.
During a debate, former president Donald Trump was adamant about wanting to overturn the landmark case and seeking to appoint justices who would help. The 2018 and 2020 appointments of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barett, respectively, to the Supreme Court were strong indicators of what was to come.
In September 2021, Justice Kavanaugh voted to allow Texas’ abortion law to take effect.
Trump also got his wish in Justice Barrett, a conservative with cagey stances on abortion. “All nominees are united in their belief that what they think about a precedent should not bear on how they decide cases,” she said during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2020.
According to Politco, both justices, along with additional Republican justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, have been aligned with Alito since December.
I know the outcome of this leak, if it does indeed lead to Roe being overturned. It means abortions across the country will continue, the procedures may just be riddled with anxiety for those who administer abortions and patients. It’s also not lost on me that birth is often synonymous with a fear-inducing experience for the Black community. As Black people and their advocates continue to voice concern over medical racism, lessening options is contributing to a bleak tomorrow.
It’s clear that the Supreme Court’s care for human life halts after the abortion process is blocked. As outlined by American Progress, the same concern is not extended to those who need postpartum mental health assistance, health care, affordable child care and paid family leave. It’s obvious that Roe being overturned is about a sense of “morality” and control.
I’m not surprised that even in the midst of all of the turmoil America is undergoing—particularly the avoidance of the COVID-19 pandemic and popular, deeply troubling preoccupation with paying back student loans—that lording over people’s bodies continues to be a priority. This further exposes ill intentions under the guise of righteousness, when the same idea empowers people to forgo safety precautions that may slow the spread of COVID-19. Agitation over health is fluid in America and is wielded when it comes to how others care for themselves.
People don’t need to walk with heightened fear when doing what’s best for them. I wish the government would focus on the actual issues Americans face, like the over half a million people who are homelessness in the U.S. and steadily increasing temperatures, instead of forcing an unnecessary, restrictive reversal on us. We can make our own decisions, but if we are not given the chance to do so, generations will suffer.