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  • Writer's pictureAanya M.

The Supreme Court on Abortion

The supreme court wants to send the question of abortion back to the states. Many have expressed their concerns. Jane (not her real name) “it’s a terrible decision, for the same reason we don’t allow states to decide why slavery should exist, it’s a constitutional right.”

If Roe V. Wade gets overturned, we will undo the progress we made toward women’s rights and human rights. Such an action can reverse many other basic rights such as access to birth control and privacy rights resulting in social inequality for women.

Roe v. Wade is a major legal decision made on January 22, 1973, in which the United States Supreme Court overturned a Texas state prohibiting abortion, essentially legalizing the practice throughout the United States. The court determined that a woman's right to an abortion was implied in the right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Norma McCorvey, a Texas woman in her early twenties, tried to terminate an unwelcome pregnancy in 1969. Abortion was permitted in Texas at the time of McCorvey's pregnancy in 1969, but only to save a woman's life. While American women with the financial means could have abortions by flying to foreign countries where the operation was safe and legal, or by paying a substantial price to a U.S. doctor prepared to perform an abortion in secret, McCorvey and many other women were unable to do so. Some women would even resort to illegal, harmful abortions. After she unsuccessfully tried to get an illegal abortion she was appointed by Texas attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who were interested in challenging anti-abortion laws. In court documents, McCorvey became known as “Jane Roe.”

In 1970 they filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, where McCorvey lived, on behalf of McCorvey and all other women "who were or could become pregnant and wish to examine all choices." A Texas district court found in June 1970 that the state's abortion prohibition was unconstitutional because it infringed a constitutional right to privacy. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, overturned a Texas statute prohibiting abortion, essentially legalizing the operation statewide.

A leaked draft opinion voted to overturn Roe V. Wade. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Alito writes. Even if Roe is overturned, there are movements underway to preserve the right to abortion. Many states, including New York, Hawaii, California, and Washington, have statutory abortion rights safeguards in their laws. With the executive and legislative branches of the United States government supporting abortion rights, there are plans in the works to overturn the Texas ban and create legislation such as the Women's Health Protection Act, a bill currently in Congress that would prohibit abortion bans and other restrictions. If Roe is overturned, it will be left up to the states to uphold women's rights. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization focused on reproductive health and rights, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, 21 states would ban or severely restrict abortion access, severely endangering women’s health.

The United States would join a narrow club of countries that have tightened, rather than loosened, abortion regulations in recent years. Since 1994, three countries have done so: Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 59 countries have expanded access during that time. Such statistics say a lot about the state of our country today.

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