How will the overturning of Roe v. Wade impact women in America?

By Snigdha Garud

How will the overturning of Roe v. Wade impact women in America?

On the 24th of June 2022, the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade. A shocking

decision, the ripples will be felt throughout the country for a long, long time. This

decision will not just change the fabric of abortion discussions in America; it has

the potential to affect other liberal rulings by the Court like same-sex marriage and

access to contraceptives according to a tweet by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Additionally, Roe v. Wade will also impact women’s rights in states where

abortion will be deemed illegal. But why should you care, especially if abortion is

not illegal across the country? Because in a nutshell, this overruling places

abortion laws in the hands of each state and eliminates federal protections of

abortion. Each discrete state can make their abortion laws as stringent as possible

as Oklahoma has already done; the state’s law now bans abortion at fertilization

and bans abortion after six weeks for exceptions (rape/incest cases). So, to put

things into perspective, Oklahoma and a few other red states like Ohio, Texas,

Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, all have abortion bans in place before a

woman even knows she is pregnant and contain no exceptions.


History

To start, let us explore the history behind Roe v. Wade. A landmark decision at the

time (1973), it “ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant

woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government

restriction” (Wikipedia). The plaintiff who filed the case in 1973 was Norma

McCorvey who was given the pseudonym Jane Roe to protect her privacy. It all

started when she sued Texas over the lack of a female-friendly abortion law.

Norma wanted to have an abortion, which was illegal in Texas unless childbirth

was life-threatening. Firstly, the case was heard in the District Court of Northern

Texas where the panel of judges ruled in her favor. The case progressed to the US

Court of Appeals 5th circuit, where it was joined with a few other abortion cases.

Because even though the District Court had recognized Norma’s right to have an

abortion, it had not issued an injunction prohibiting Texas from keeping such a

law. From there, the case was fast-tracked to the Supreme Court due to the urgency

of Norma’s pregnancy, where the vote was 7-2 in favor of Norma’s abortion. It ruled that while states could not restrict abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first three months), some restrictions could be applied in subsequent trimesters. Nonetheless, it was a bold decision, one that was celebrated by pro-choice women across the country.




Modern-day ruling

Until the Supreme court issued a reversal of the trailblazing decision, abortion was

still federally legal. And while select red states had tried to curtail the practice like

Texas and Mississippi, an umbrella of federal protections still existed. However,

after the June 24th decision, the post Roe v. Wade world looks very different—and

unsurprising. One can argue that the decision was, in part, inevitable because of the conservative majority in the Supreme Court, as well as the draft leak around the

beginning of June. Three of the Supreme Court justices were appointed by Donald

Trump, and two justices had conservative leanings. In the end, the decision to

reverse Roe v. Wade was 5-4, with Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil

Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito leading the majority. Chief Justice

John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan led the minority

to keep Roe v. Wade. Concurrently, the Court voted 6-3 to support a Mississippi

abortion ban being challenged, with Chief Justice John Roberts voting to uphold

the ban.




Implications on abortion

Less than a month later, shocking news is already circulating. Recently, a ten-year-

old girl had to cross the Ohio state line into Indiana to get an abortion, after having

been raped by a 27-year-old man named Gerson Fuentes. Why couldn’t she get an

abortion in Ohio? Because as per the ‘heartbeat bill’ that caps all abortions

(including in rape/incest cases) before six weeks, the young girl had surpassed the

limit. According to Indiana officials, she was six weeks pregnant at the time of her

abortion. If this is not disturbing enough, many hospitals in Texas are turning away

pregnant patients with medical complications, out of fear for Texas’s rigid abortion

laws. As abortions are banned in Texas, medical professionals could face up to

$100,000 in fines and 10+ years in jail. Because even though medical abortions

remain legal in the state, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the exceptions. A

woman in Texas recently spoke out about having to carry her baby’s dead fetus for

two weeks after suffering a miscarriage. The procedure was the same procedure

used in abortion cases, and many physicians refused to perform it. Fortunately,

Stell ended up finding a provider; however, the question still arises: what if she

hadn’t? Carrying a dead fetus can result in a myriad of problems, including long-

term health concerns. Who would have been responsible if something had

happened to Stell?





College applications

And Roe v. Wade is not just impacting abortion; it is also impacting college

applications. No young woman wants to go to college in a state like Texas or Ohio,

where the abortion laws are the strictest in the country and contain no exceptions

for rape/incest. Personally, as a young woman who is a rising senior, I have had to

scratch my dream college—Rice University—off the list since it is located in

Texas and will have to re-evaluate my in-state options if a Republican governor is

elected in Pennsylvania. Heather Burke—a Georgia native—said her daughter

faced a similar dilemma. As Georgia has abortion bans after six weeks, her

daughter has been forced to look out-of-state. For the very first time, females are

not asking themselves where they want to go to college; they are asking themselves

where abortion is legal. Should this really be happening?



Rice University

Menstruation and abortion


For millions of young women across the country who use period-tracking apps, a

new concern is cropping up: some apps may sell your period data, which may be

used against you if you ever seek an abortion illegally. Social media is flooded

posts urging girls to switch to hand-written period trackers, which is an incredibly

valid concern. In the future, text messages and location data could also be used

against you according to the Chief Technology Officer of Viszen Security, even if

abortion bans are currently only targeting medical providers and not patients. But

with everything that’s been happening, who’s to say that this data won’t be used

for nefarious reasons in the future? What if states with abortion bans do end up

prosecuting patients? One thing is certain: In this post-Roe v. Wade world that is

starting to resemble the Handmaid’s Tale, nothing is certain.




Resources used in the article

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/ 25/politics/oklahoma-abortion-ban-hb-4327-

signed-governor-stitt/index.html

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/states-6-week-abortion-ban-to-go-into-

effect-immediately-in-unorthodox-ruling/ar-AAZN5Gz

https://www.cnet.com/health/abortion-laws-in-every-state/

https://www.justia.com/constitutional-law/50-state-survey-on-abortion-laws/

https://www.thoughtco.com/roe-v-wade-abortion-rights-1779383

https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-could-pregnant-10-year-old-girl-get-

abortion-ohio-1725114

https://www.kxan.com/news/texas/texas-hospitals-are-putting-pregnant-patients-at-

risk-by-denying-care-out-of-fear-of-abortion-laws-medical-group-says/

https://news.yahoo.com/college-shopping-students-query-abortion-

104601821.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/do-period-tracker-apps-put-your-

privacy-at-risk-post-roe-v-wade/ar-AAZyVb2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade


Resources used in the article

Planned Parenthood-

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion/considering-abortion/what-

facts-about-abortion-do-i-need-know

WIRED offers a great article about the types of abortion (surgical and medical), as

well as a great site (AbortionFinder) which sets up women with surgical abortion

providers across the country.

https://www.wired.com/story/guide-abortion-resources-post-roe-america/


OBOS (Our body Ourselves) also has great resources:

https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/resources-for-

support/


Another good resource:

https://www.atrh.org/abortion