What Roe v. Wade means for All of Us
By: Taquarius Johnson
Abortion has always been a polarizing topic. Before arguing when conception begins, let's start at the birth of Roe v. Wade. In 1973, a landmark decision was reached by the Supreme Court, granting a nationwide constitutional protection of women's abortion rights. Prior to this case, our country's view on this topic had been at dissonance. Abortion was legal in the U.S. until the late 1850s, when the American Medical Association began criminalization, in an effort to eliminate competition within the medical field. Capitalism was not the only motivation, as nativists had feared the declining birth rates among white, American-born women due to immigration. This fear is still echoed today by conservative media, describing it as "white genocide." By 1880, abortion was outlawed across most of the country. This precedent remained untested until the 1960s, during the women's rights movement. The Supreme Court overturned multiple laws that criminalized the distribution of birth control [1965 and 1972], which laid the foundation for Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade (1973)
In 1969, Norma McCorvey, a Texas woman in her early 20s, sought to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Prior to this, she had given birth twice and gave both children up for adoption. Abortion was legal in her home state of Texas, but only for the purpose of saving the mother's life. American women with financial means could obtain abortions by traveling out of country, or even paying doctors a large sum to operate secretly. These options were out of question for McCorvey and many others. Because of this, many women would resort to illegal, "back-alley," abortions that proved to be incredibly dangerous. After an unsuccessful attempt at an illegal abortion, McCorvey, along with her legal team, challenged anti-abortion law.
Norma McCorvey ["Jane Roe" in Roe v. Wade]
A Constitutional right
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court struck down the Texas law and effectively made abortion legal nationwide. The court established a precedent that a woman's right to an abortion is constitutionally protected by the 14th amendment. In 2022, this precedent is being overturned.
A draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the public, which showed us the court's intention to overturn Roe v. Wade. This leak opens a doorway into the mind of the conservative majority. Many on the right are celebrating, as this has been the intention for quite some time. Americans have always been divided on this issue, but the majority support a woman's right to choose. Opposing sides often have vastly different arguments. The debate can often find itself boiling down to human rights vs. religious beliefs. History shows us that religion can be used as a tool to justify horrific actions, such as slavery.
A Future Precedent
To overturn Roe v. Wade is to establish a precedent that no amendment right is safe. This would be reversing the 14th amendment, which was originally placed to establish citizenship and protection for former slaves. This amendment quickly failed, as Jim Crow thrived, and segregation was used to normalize inhumane treatment of black people. Minorities have never been respected by the American government. Each time a progressive change is made, it's quickly followed up by attempts to undo it. Why is that?
Progressive achievements are often celebrated as huge milestones. For example, the abolition of slavery is celebrated as if it was ever justified in the first place. So, we should be thankful that white men granted me human rights that I should've always had? The same can be said for abortion.
If religion is the motivation behind this decision, it's a direct infringement on our first amendment right. The right protects us from enforced religious principles by our government. Most people are lying when they say God is the reason why they don't support abortion. The logic implies that if you get pregnant, it's what God intended and it's morally wrong to defy with his plan. Abortion is a medical procedure, but the only one that this logic is applied to. If you grow a brain tumor or develop cancer, should you do nothing about it because it's God's plan? Everyone is going to answer no, so why is the logic only applied to a woman's body? Is it just another attempt to manipulate religion in order to justify an infringement on minority rights? Yes.