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Special Edition

 
Today's issue is 1,243 words, a six-minute read.

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A NewPrensa Special Edition is an in-depth take on topics relevant to BIPOC culture and community in the given month.
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The Potential Fate of
Abortions in the U.S.

Pro-choice and pro-life demonstrators outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 1, 2021  📷  Drew Angerer | Getty Images

There are many moving pieces regarding the leaked draft opinion that suggests that the Supreme Court is looking to overturn Roe v. Wade. Our news and social media platforms have been consumed by it. But what does this mean? Who does it affect? What are the results that may come from this if the decision were to be overturned? We hope to break it all down for you in this special edition. 

Roe v. Wade’s Complicated History

Roe v. Wade saw its beginnings in 1969 when Norma McCorvey (or Jane Roe, the anonymous plaintiff in the case) sought an abortion in Texas for her third pregnancy. At the time, Texas allowed abortion only if the woman’s life was endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term. Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, two young feminist lawyers, had wanted to take abortion access to the Supreme Court, and McCorvey was the best candidate for plaintiff.

When Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973, it was not a controversial issue. It certainly was not as contentious as cases such as Brown v. The Board of Education overturning Plessy v. Ferguson to ban racial segregation in the U.S., an issue that Roe v. Wade has been compared to. Notably, Justice Harry Blackman, SCOTUS majority leader at the time appointed by Richard Nixon, presented the court’s majority opinion.
Republican lawmakers were responsible for passing many of the early (and more progressive) abortion access laws. Only when states began to need to change their own policies did abortion become an increasingly partisan issue.

The states that 
removed their abortion bans entirely between the years 1967 and 1973 included Alaska, Hawaii, New York, and Washington, with 13 additional states expanding access to abortions during the same period. Interestingly, the states that failed in the 1970s to pass state-level abortion access laws were predominantly in the Northeast, where the populations were overwhelmingly democratic — and Catholic. 

Because only two of the four states mentioned are in the continental U.S. and on opposite sides of the country, reaching clinics was a challenge for many women seeking legal abortions. This meant that a large population of women who could not afford to travel to these safe haven states sought illegal and unsafe abortions. McCorvey brought safe access to abortion for women across the country, keeping the procedure private and regulated between the woman and her doctor. 

Barriers to Abortion Access

While there are many reasons why one may seek an abortion (none of which are anyone's business but their own), it has been shown that people of color statistically see higher rates of unintended pregnancy, for which abortion is a solution. An unintended pregnancy often happens because there is lack of access to contraceptives or adequate sex education. Lower income communities (more often BIPOC communities) do not always have the privilege of paying for sufficient healthcare, which would include prescription birth control. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, we would once again see a divided America: those who can travel to seek legal abortions will, and those who do not have those means won't and are then forced to seek other options.

 

The Anticipated End to Roe v. Wade

The opinion draft itself, released by Politico on May 2, 2022, is 98 pages long, and within it, Justice Samuel Alito asserts that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.” He also maintains throughout the draft that the grounds for revoking Roe, that is, on the basis of the 14th amendment’s right to privacy needing to be “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions” does not hold any implication for other so-called "unenumerated" rights (that is, those not explicitly stated in the Constitution). These rights, such as the right to marry someone of the same sex or the right to contraception, will not be affected by this ruling, affirmed Justice Alito in the draft. The Justice confirmed the authenticity of the draft several days after the Politico article was published and announced that there would be an investigation following the information leak. 

 

Map of predicted outcomes by state if Roe v. Wade is overturned  📷  Planned Parenthood

 

If Roe is overturned, there are 26 states set or likely to impose full or more restrictive abortion bans. So called “trigger bans” would allow these restrictions to go into effect almost immediately. Many of these states set to impose more restrictive bans are grouped together in the South and Midwest of the country. This means that not only will it be more difficult for people of lower income to travel several states away to seek abortion, but also could result in an increase of out of state abortion seekers filling up appointments in lenient states’ clinics. This could be the case in Minnesota, which would be surrounded by states that would impose restrictive bans.

 

Pro-Life?

There are many arguments in favor of restricting and banning abortion access in the United States. Some arguments are rooted in religious beliefs, however, because we have the separation of church and state, we cannot dictate how everyone in this country lives their lives based on one religion. The most prominent argument would be that an unborn and undeveloped fetus is a human life and therefore the law must protect its rights. 

We won’t get into when “life” truly begins as people have  different opinions on that matter. However, what we do know, and what is not opinion is that banning abortions will not stop abortions - it will only restrict access to safe abortions. We also know that a hard and fast rule of “no abortions” with no exceptions does not take into account the life of the person carrying said child. 

About 700 women die each year in the U.S. as a result of pregnancy or complications during birth.
Women of color are more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women. 

We’ve mentioned that the overturning of Roe will not ban all abortions, but it will make finding one much harder for those who do not have the financial capacity to go out of state if their state restricts access. If a woman cannot afford to go out of state to get an abortion, why is it expected that she is able to financially support being pregnant? Or that she has the means to pay for hospital visits, prenatal care, and the actual birth? For example,
in Texas, the average price of a hospital birth is $17,000.

The sentiment of “Pro-Life” is missing a piece of the puzzle, as more and more women are going to be forced to make life altering decisions that they should be able to decide for themselves. “Pro-Life” does not include the life of the mother. Nor does it include the life of the child once they are born.

What can I do?

The draft is not a final ruling, and things could change in the coming months as the court prepares its final opinion. Still, it isn’t unreasonable to prepare for what may soon be an America no longer protected by Roe v. Wade. Attending protests, educating yourself on abortion rights, and supporting organizations such as Planned Parenthood, through petitions or financially are all ways that you can help in this fight to keep abortion accessible for those who need it. 

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About NewPrensa
Hi, friend, Maria and Helene here. Thank you for reading this Special Edition. We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Feel free to shoot us an email at newprensa@newpublica.com. 

We’d also like to take a moment to introduce the newest member of our NewPrensa team, Helene!

Helene is helping us share local and BIPOC news to your inboxes all summer long. Is there a topic you want us to cover? Or an event you want us to promote? Reach out! We’d love to hear from you.


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