Roe v Wade: How America Has Taken Away Women's Jurisdiction Over Their Own Bodies
I've never intended to write political pieces on my blog, however, the recent events are more than just politics - its livelihoods. The future for women in America is very bleak as a constitutional right has been overturned after 50 years - taking America back to life before the 70s.
(Roe v Wade Protest, cover photo)
What is Roe v Wade?
Roe v Wade was a court case from 1969, where Norma McCorvey (using the pseudonym "Jane Roe" at the time) challenged the criminal abortion laws in Texas while Dallas County district attorney Henry Wade defended them. In Texas, abortion was forbidden as unconstitutional - except if the mother's life was in danger.
Ms. McCorvey, pregnant with her third child when she filed the case, claimed she was raped and therefore wanted the ability to have an abortion. However, the case was rejected and she was forced to give birth.
Ms. McCorvey made an appeal to the US Supreme Court in 1973, where her case was heard alongside that of Sandra Bensing, a 20-year-old woman from Georgia.
The two women argued that the abortion laws in Texas and in Georgia went against the US Constitution because they infringed on a women's right to privacy which is protected under the 14th Amendment. The case won in their favour and the government lacked the power to prohibit abortions. The decision affirmed the right to an abortion before fetal viability - which is generally understood like this:
First Trimester (up to 12 weeks): Gives a woman an absolute right to an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy.
Second Trimester (up to 28 weeks: Allows the government to regulate abortion in order to protect the mother’s health, but cannot ban it.
Third Trimester (up to 40 weeks): Because the fetus is considered "viable" — can survive on its own outside the womb (about 24 weeks of pregnancy) — states can prohibit abortion except in cases when the mother's life is at risk.
And for 50 years, this constitutional right held that states may not impose restrictions on abortion earlier than the viability standard and gave women the privacy to come to their own decision. Yet, women today won't have the same constitutional right that their mother or grandmother did, and no longer have the right to make their own decisions for themselves - or for their future.
Overturning Roe v Wade makes it that this right is no longer constitutional and can prompt states to ban the procedure within their territory. It is expected that about half of the states in the U.S. will introduce new restrictions or bans.
How does this infringe on the 14th Amendment?
Let's break down both what the 14th Amendment is, and how overruling Roe v Wade is unconstitutional.
The 14th amendment states that "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
There are three keywords that stick out to me when I read the passage: life, liberty, and jurisdiction.
The main argument against abortion is that it is "killing" an innocent life. However, over the last 50
years - and likely previously before that - doctors, researchers, and scientists have agreed on
specific trimesters depending on how developed the fetus is. In any normal, once-legal
circumstance the fetus does not feel pain, it is not conscious, and does not think at all. The
Amendment states not to "deprive any person of life," this includes the mother's current life and
her future. If she feels she cannot provide properly for the baby, or that the responsibility of
pregnancy is too much for her - it should be within her right to make that decision.
Liberty and freedom; both words are associated with America but not with its people. A woman is
no longer free to decide when and how she will start a family. A woman can no longer find
protection in the health care system if she is raped or has health issues. A trend I'm sure most
people predict will be that lower-income and/or POC women will be affected the most. Individuals
who already have the least amount of freedom within the country will further be punished for their
status. Unlike higher-income women, who can travel to a state that allows abortions, lower-income,
many POC, and teenage women will be unable to make the trip, thus making it even harder to
break out of their restrictions. A rapist, a father, or a boy can all dissapear and never have to deal
with the consequences. While a victim, a mother, or a girl has their entire life changed.
Jurisdiction: "the official power to make legal decisions and judgments." Jurisdiction gave us the
power of Roe v Wade 50 years ago. Yesterday, jurisdiction took those rights away. This is proof that
even constitutional rights are no longer safe in this America. In this America, ideologies and
political campaigns are starting to mean more than the very livelihood of the people. It is no
longer a woman's jurisdiction to decide what to do for her body, her future, and herself.
(Pro-abortion rights protest in the U.S.A.)
The implications of this all
Based on all I've discussed, I believe the political direction America is moving in will mostly impact women and minorities. The implications on the nature of why Roe v Wade was overturned - Justice Alito's draft opinion stated that the decision of Roe v Wade was "egregiously wrong" because it protects rights not explicitly included in the constitution - has a very dire undertone for other court rulings of the past, such as Griswold v Connecticut, which protects the right to purchase and use contraceptives, or Loving v Virginia and Obergefell v Hodges that protect the constitutional right to marry. All of those are not specifically found in the text of the constitution.
"Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologies - attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans." - Barack Obama, NY Times.
Overall, this decision ultimately threatens multiple rights that have been protected for decades. Precedent is no longer being upheld in the U.S. supreme court, but opinion and ideologies. With many efforts still going into gaining rights and respect for other minorities - such as Transgender individuals, immigrants, and non-binary individuals - groups who had previously won their rights now must worry if their fight may lead to a round two.
"Roe V Wade: What Is US Supreme Court Ruling On Abortion?". BBC News, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54513499 Accessed 25 June 2022.
Hubbard, Kaia. "Roe v. Wade is Gone. Here’s What That Means." U.S. News, 24 June 2022,
"What is the 14th Amendment and How is It Connected to Abortion Rights, Roe v. Wade?" 5Chicago, 24 June 2022, https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/what-is-the-14th-amendment-and-how-is-it-connected-to-abortion-rights-roe-v-wade-2/2865134/ Accessed 25 June 2022.
Chemerinsky, Erwin."The Enormous Consequences of Overruling Roe v. Wade," Time, 3 May 2022, https://time.com/6172956/consequences-overruling-roe-wade/ Accessed 25 June 2022.