Roe v. Wade at risk of being overturned

The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a court case that could potentially alter the precedent of Roe v. Wade. (Graphic by Rachel Palmer)

Roe v. Wade is one of the most well known Supreme Court cases in the U.S.,  and also one of the most controversial. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court passed a law to protect all women’s rights to abortion without excessive government involvement. In 2018, Mississippi wrote a law to ban all abortions after 15 weeks. The law did not pass because it was clearly not compliant with Roe v. Wade, but Mississippi’s predominantly male lawmakers are determined to make Mississippi the “safest state for an unborn child” so they fought and fought until they finally got the Supreme Court to take up the case. 

Mississippi takes this case to court Oct. 2021, with expected decisions around June 2022. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade then Mississippi will be banning all abortions after 15 weeks, including victims of sexual assault, excluding medical emergencies. This is a drastic change to the the standard U.S. law that any woman has access to abortion before the fetus is viable (typically 24 weeks), but a majority of abortions actually happen before 9 weeks. 

This is still an important case because if the law passes in Mississippi, the landmark case, Roe v. Wade, will then be overturned, also implementing trigger laws in other states. A trigger law is a law that is dormant until a certain circumstance, in this case, Roe being overturned. 

“I think I’m pro choice because if there’s a woman who’s sexually assaulted she should definitely have the right to get rid of that pregnancy if she wants to because even as the baby grows up, it’s going to know that their dad sexually assaulted their mother and it came from that kind of situation, and that’s going to hurt both the kid and mother,” junior Sydney Scheel said. 

The issue is less Mississippi banning abortion after 15 weeks, but more the domino effect that this will have. States are already implementing trigger laws, which not enforceable yet, but if the landmark law is overturned, which is likely with our very conservative leaning Supreme Court, the south will see drastic changes in their abortion rights.

Texas is aiming to rid abortions after 6 weeks post conception. A menstrual cycle is typically four weeks so this is hardly enough time for a mother to even suspect pregnancy, let alone test and carefully weigh her options, and then make an appointment. Abortions are already extremely hard to access due to 6 southern states, including Mississippi and Texas, only having a singular abortion clinic, which is detrimental when there is a two week window for a woman to find an open appointment.

Scheel believes, “Being forced to have a baby you don’t want can ruin not only the person who’s having the baby’s life but it can ruin the baby’s life too, at some point.” If a mother is not fit to have a baby and is forced to, she possibly will not be a great mother to that baby, making its life forlorn. 

Several states are making exceptions to their new restrictions for victims of sexual assault, while others are not. What does it say about a law that protects an embryo’s rights over the ones of a sentient, viable human being?

“It’s saying that after losing control of their body once [by getting sexually assaulted] they once again lose control of their body again. Because someone raped them and now they have to have that baby,” junior Addie DeMars explained.

One thing that seems to be agreed upon between both sides of the argument is, birth control and pregnancy prevention need to be better enforced so that women don’t have to face this issue, especially in teens. Teen pregnancy rates have gone down more than 50% in recent years, but schools pushing nothing but abstinence is harmful, there needs to be more education and resources for pregnancy prevention. 

“[It’s important to] focus more on more than just abstinence, because you can’t just tell teenagers that and expect them to listen,” DeMars, who supports the pro-choice side, said. 

“I think that birth control is really important to be pushed to make sure that we don’t end up in situations where we have to have abortions,” pro-life supporter, senior Abby Cronk.

Many say “banning abortions doesn’t stop abortions, it only stops safe abortions”. If a woman does not want a child that bad they can find other, unsafe, ways to terminate that pregnancy, especially in young women who cannot turn to their family for help and are young, and so stressed out that they cannot think rationally. 

Texas state Rep. Erin Zwiener is “worried we will see more people pursue sort of do-it-yourself, the proverbial back alley procedures that are less safe, and much more likely to have complications.” 

It is important to keep moving forward as a country, taking away a woman’s rights to control her own body is a leap backwards for the U.S.. Control over one’s own body without government dictation is a right, not a privilege and it is dangerous to be taking away women’s rights and moving back to a time where women didn’t have those rights. Roe v. Wade has been in place for less than 50 years, it is hardly an outdated decision that needs to be repealed.