Image Courtesy of Lorie Shaull
Megan Moutsatsos, Queen’s University
Edited by Sefanit Zeray
Abortion is a polarizing social issue in many areas of the world, including the United States. People are divided about whether a fetus has the right to live in a mother’s womb, or whether the mother has the right to terminate her pregnancy. A critical case that helped legalize abortion in the United States is “Roe v. Wade.” However, the decision for this case is currently at risk of being overturned, which would have extreme consequences on the abortion rights of American women.
“Roe v. Wade” was a case heard by the American Supreme Court in 1970, when “Jane Roe,” a name initially used to protect the identity of Norma McCorvey, took legal action against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas, Texas. Mentally and financially in a poor state, Roe was seeking an abortion for her unwanted pregnancy, but abortion was illegal in Texas at the time, with the exception of cases where it would save the mother’s life. Roe then took legal action against Henry Wade. When the case was brought to the Supreme Court, they declared in 1973 that a woman has the right to an abortion because she has the right to privacy, which is affirmed by the 14th Amendment to the Consitution. While the Court still allowed states to restrict abortion rights, as they could be regulated in the second trimester and banned in the third, it was still a monumental decision that granted abortion rights to many American women.
However, in 2021, the Supreme Court heard a case challenging a Mississippi law that calls for abortion to be banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If the Supreme Court allows the law to stand, they would be contradicting the abortion boundaries set by the “Roe v. Wade” case. The Court is scheduled to give their decision for the case in the spring or early summer of 2022. Also, the Court now has a six-Justice Conservative majority, which means they have more power to constrain abortion rights. This power has the potential to override the progress made in 2020, such as when the Supreme Court was able to strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law due to their smaller number of Conservative Justices. However, with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an advocate for women’s rights, and the inaguration of Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett in her place, it is likely that the Supreme Court will be able to place more restrictions on abortion.
To conclude, “Roe v. Wade” is at risk of being overturned in America, as evident through the abortion-restricting laws currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. The official implantation of these new and restrictive laws would directly contradict the verdict made by the Supreme Court back in 1973. For the sake of abortion rights in America, the Mississippi law must not be passed. If it is, more laws that undermine “Roe” would surely follow. This would severely endanger legal abortion in America, thus posing a threat to the autonomies that American women have over their bodies.
A&E Television Networks. (2018, March 27). Roe v. Wade. History.com. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/womens-rights/roe-v-wade
Hassan, A. (2021, October 28). What to know about the Mississippi abortion law challenging Roe v. Wade. The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/article/mississippi-abortion-law.html
Shaull, L. (2019). Pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrators stage concurrent events outside the United States Supreme Court Building, Washington Dc, April 26, 1989. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pro-choice_and_anti-abortion_demonstrators_outside_the_Supreme_Court_in_1989,_Washington_DC_(48580744147).jpg.