May 23, 2022
By Samantha Mayer
Earlier this month, the news organization Politico published a leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The draft majority opinion, whose authenticity was confirmed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, overturns the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito states that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Once the Supreme Court officially releases its decision later this term, an abortion would be legal in Alabama only if the fetus has a lethal abnormality that would result in death or stillbirth soon after delivery or if it would avoid substantial health danger to the mother. Essentially, this decision would leave the legality of abortion up to individual states.
In response to the leaked opinion, activists took to the streets to show their commitment to continue fighting. Jamie Manson, the president of Catholics for Choice, said she was “shocked but not surprised” by the contents of the leaked opinion, according to The New York Times.
Like Manson, I was shocked when I learned about the leaked opinion. I first saw the news on social media and did not immediately understand why there were so many protests taking place. However, as I continued to educate myself, I became fearful, as I realize that without the option of abortion, women are losing their ability to determine their own fates and make fundamental choices concerning their health and well-being.
The government should not be able to force women to birth a child against their will. Furthermore, the court’s leaked ruling does not recognize that there are pregnant women who are not emotionally, financially, mentally or physically ready to become mothers.
The Supreme Court is also failing to recognize the effects its decision has on women who have become pregnant due to sexual assault. According to a report by the National Institutes of Health, about 32,101 pregnancies result from rape every year. Those women did not choose to get pregnant, and they should not be required to keep the baby.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling is deeply concerning because it does not mark the end of abortions but the end of safe abortions. According to a 2021 study conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder, abortion bans would result in a 21% rise in pregnancy-related mortality, which would disproportionately affect people of color and other marginalized groups.
The government should not be able to force women to birth a child against their will.
Following the Supreme Court decision, 13 states will immediately or very quickly ban abortion. These states all make exceptions if the woman’s life or health is in serious jeopardy, but many would not allow for abortions caused by rape or incest. In these states, abortions would no longer be conducted by doctors and medical specialists. Instead, women would be frequenting illegal facilities and seeking the assistance of those who are unlicensed and untrained but willing to conduct the procedure. Women would also be forced to rely on potentially dangerous pills and drugs or hurt themselves as a way to get rid of the pregnancy.
While the Supreme Court’s leaked decision is deeply concerning, there are states that are working to protect a woman’s right to choose. For instance, in New Jersey, abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy. In fact, on May 11, Gov. Phil Murphy outlined measures to make abortion care in New Jersey more affordable and to train additional professionals to serve women who are traveling from states where the procedure is expected to be illegal. Murphy also intends to secure abortion clinics and expand reproductive services to uninsured and underinsured women.
Murphy is to be commended for showing his support of women and abortion, and it is comforting to know that the Garden State has a governor who supports the imperative right confirmed nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, though, this is a terrifying moment for the country and for those who oppose the Supreme Court’s expected decision.