Reproductive Rights on the Rocks

I probably should have seen it coming. In the October issue of Tatler, I wrote an article entitled “Texas Is Violating Health Care Rights: What You Can Do To Help,” about Texas’ then-recent limitations on abortion access after six weeks of pregnancy. Rereading that article, I could only describe my mindset as frantic. I was witnessing something that I believed could never happen. How could the Supreme Court allow a state to pass a bill that undermined its nearly fifty-year-old ruling on the case of Roe v. Wade. 

I now realize the error in my stance. I understood Roe v. Wade as an indestructible pillar of American freedom and expected the Supreme Court to do everything in its power to defend it. Nearly nine months later, I worry that Roe v. Wade may soon be only a reminder of what I thought would always be.

I was quarantined on my basement couch in the midst of a COVID scare when I saw the news. I was scrolling through my endless Instagram feed when I got the notification from the New York Times: “Unprecedented SCOTUS draft leak from the could indicate the end of Roe v. Wade,” or something along those lines. I was too shocked to remember the details. I panicked and clicked on the article, met by only an error message. The article had already been taken down. I was spooked. 

I understood Roe v. Wade as an indestructible pillar of American freedom.

I never figured out what happened to that mysterious article. I promptly found about a dozen others and was able to appropriately freak out once I knew the full story a couple minutes later. Two weeks prior, I would have told you that overturning Roe v. Wade was against everything that the constitution stood for, namely “the right to privacy” and four other of the 33 amendments cited in the original decision. In an era where many countries, such as Thailand, Colombia, and South Korea, are expanding abortion access, it is notable that the US is regressing.  

I am not going to delve into the complexities of the Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. I don’t think I am the person to do that. There are countless resources available if you want to learn more. I also recognize that not everyone at Lakeside has the same political and religious views. To some, abortion is a moral evil and the Supreme Court is doing the right thing by terminating nationally reliable access to the procedure. 

This is not a last-ditch attempt to change these individuals’ minds or undermine anyone’s religious beliefs. I am a singular person who can voice no opinion other than my own in some hope that I may validate someone else who feels the same way I do. In short, I am scared and frustrated. Although, thankfully, Washington State legislators plan to protect access to abortion, regardless of Roe’s federal status, I fear that this may only be the beginning. The full scope of the issue is quite nuanced, but a SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe will potentially set a precedent for more federal restrictions on reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ freedoms, as many of them rely on similar arguments. 

Here are some quick statistics for you: In 1973, an entirely male Supreme Court voted to grant national access to abortion in a 7-2 decision. In 2022, in a time where reproductive rights are a frequent topic of conversation and the SCOTUS has four female justices, the decision may be overturned. If it is, “trigger” laws in thirteen states will immediately ban all or most abortions. At least ten others are likely to follow suit. Currently, almost one in four menstruating people have an abortion in their lifetime. It is also widely predicted that people of color in low-income housing will be disproportionately affected by the ruling. Back-alley abortion rates are expected to increase, putting many in danger of injury or death. 

This itself is terrifying. 76% of Tatler poll respondants indicated that they worried about future access to abortion for themselves or others, an almost 30% increase from October. My personal feelings of outrage come not only from the possibility that Roe could be overturned, but from the language that Justice Samuel Alito uses in the draft opinion. His argument centers around the “Inescapable conclusion [that] the right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions.” 

To put this in perspective, it was one year after the court’s decision on Roe v. Wade that women gained the legal right to open a credit card under their own name. Think about that. Women were not permitted to own their own credit cards until 1974, and I think we would all find it a little strange if the courts suddenly decided to roll back that right because it wasn’t what the Founding Fathers intended. 

Nothing deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions gives women any autonomy, either socially, reproductively, or economically. It wasn’t handed to us. We had to fight for the right to own a house and vote and be guaranteed an education. If Roe v. Wade is ultimately overturned, I know that women around the nation will fight to regain our freedom. For the time being, abortion is still legal. It is still your right. Join the Bans Off Our Bodies movement if you want to keep it that way.