Washington DC – Roe v. Wade was handed down back in 1973. The 70s was a time when political parties viewed the law objectively, with no political bias. In this era, the concept of abortion was without clear political or religious boundaries. The topics of abortion in the U.S. were beyond the catholic church.
Statistics show that around 64 million women and girls of reproductive age live in the US. More than half of them live in states that could ban or place restrictions on abortion access. This is very likely if the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade.
It is yet not certain how many states would be able to enforce this ban and how quickly the ban could take effect. If we examine states like Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina among many others, the democratic governors are working hard to protect abortion rights. However, these states have pre-Roe v. Wade bans and other gestational limitations.
According to the CDC, the reproductive age is between 15-44, though younger girls and older women can get pregnant. Many of the women of reproductive age at risk, live in the state of Texas, which banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy last year. A good portion also lives in Florida, which enacted a 15-week ban effective, July 1, 2022. If Roe gets overturned the impact will not be even within the states with restrictions. Women will be left with no choice but to cross state borders or opt for abortion pills online.
Let’s take a look at the difficulties that women, many of whom are under the poverty line, will face.
- Out-of-state travel will impose severe financial challenges for women with lower income, including teenagers. They may not be able to afford cross-country travel or arrange for someone to drive them.
- Undocumented women seeking to terminate a pregnancy will not be able to take the added risk of crossing checkpoints, potentially putting them at risk of deportation.
- There is no certainty on what options female inmates in prisons will have. They cannot possibly travel out of state while being under arrest. Will they have to give birth? What about their rights? Will they come under any exceptions?
- We do not know what happens with women or girls impregnated by rapists. Will rape victims have no other option but to cross state borders and spend money? Will they eventually be forced to deal with issues like child support and visitation?
- Access to pregnancy and child care support services that accept insurance policies from other states is not easy. Expanded Medicaid is a challenge too. Most people get health insurance from the state and often the network of federally qualified health centers is not robust.
- According to a research survey of abortion patients conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, “most women getting abortions are living in poverty and are disproportionately poor. They are most likely experiencing disruptive life events” According to them “it is the most vulnerable of an already vulnerable group that will no longer have access.”
Unfortunately, the draft opinion does not address these matters.
What do these challenges mean?
Per the Center for Reproductive Rights research, more than 30 percent of the abortion providers in the US are in the states that may restrict abortion.
Now in states where access remains, the influx of patients will make it harder for patients to get timely appointments or be treated on priority. These states are planning on opening new health centers and launching telehealth programs. But only time will tell if that will be sufficient.
In Florida for example, there are 55 abortion providers. Currently, Florida regulations stipulate that abortions can be performed for up to 15 weeks. However, other states may restrict abortions further. A state like Illinois, which has more accessibility could see many out-of-state patients annually if the neighboring states lose access.
Let’s analyze the chaos that may be caused should Roe be overturned. Not only will women be forced to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion, many will have no option but to manage abortion through illicit online groups or other sources. This is dangerous for the health & well-being of women and girls.
Without a doubt, many women, including rape victims & prison inmates, will be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This ban is going to be very significant as it will violate the due process rights of women & children and strike down US constitutional protections for abortion.
Roe v. Wade not only established the rights of pregnant individuals to get an abortion up to 24 weeks gestation but also invalidated the state bans on abortion.
The leaked supreme court opinion draft, tells us that five conservative justices think that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. If Roe does get overturned, it will be chaotic. The uncertainty and fluctuations will only increase while the states try to implement their bans on abortions.
Many abortion clinics will simply be closed. The birth rate could substantially increase and so can the cases of high-risk pregnancy or death at the time of childbirth. At the moment, over 800,000 abortions are induced annually in the US.
Unfortunately, networks have already been set up to mail abortion pills. However, this could be obtaining medication unlawfully since the abortion procedure in itself would be banned in the said states. Lawmakers are yet to address this concern. This only tells us that obstetrics care would be substantially altered.
Clinicians are now scared that they may be prosecuted criminally for providing care that pregnant mothers may need. Right now the maternal mortality rate in the US is the highest among developed nations. Data proves that over 40 % of the future obstetricians and gynecologists could be from states where abortion could become illegal. This will make it difficult to train new doctors for early miscarriages where the procedures are somewhat similar to that of induced abortions.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, one in four pregnant individuals in the US currently get an abortion. This includes diverse women from all backgrounds. However, in most cases, women who do get an abortion are unmarried women or low-income individuals, or those who already have children.
Nancy Northup, president, and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights told Current Affairs Times that “It’s important to remember that the Court has not yet issued a decision and abortion remains legal in the United States. We don’t know if the document released by Politico represents the views of a majority of the Supreme Court. What we do know is that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade it will be an unjustified, unprecedented stripping away of a guaranteed right that has been in place for nearly five decades. It would represent the most damaging setback to the rights of women in the history of our country.”
At the end of the day the question is Will Women Have A Choice? Or Will The Law Makers Choose To Violate A Women’s Due Process Right?
Thumbnail Credits: AP Photo/Anna Johnson
- New York Times.
- Guttenmarch Institute
- Center for Reproductive Rights.
- World Health Organization.
- CDC Statistics.