Roe v. Wade at 45: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Even though I already knew it, a quick Google of “Roe v. Wade 45 years” reiterated to me why this debate is still raging on in America. We all know why. In a time when women’s reproductive rights are still under fire from the conservative right, it’s more important than ever to talk about the implications of the landmark Supreme Court decision made back in 1973.
So what was it all about? In 1971 (and again in 1972), a woman from Texas had her case go to the Supreme Court to determine if, in fact, a woman had a right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. And so, it was decided by the Supreme Court of the time, in 1973, that woman’s right to choose was protected by the right to privacy included in the Fourteenth Amendment through Substantive Due Process. This was then reaffirmed in 1992 in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case that the ruling under Roe v. Wade “should be retained and once again reaffirmed.”
Why is all this important?
Today, more states are passing laws to restrict a woman’s access to abortion. And, in a world where the political right often argue that "Fake News" is destroying the moral fiber of the nation, there seems to be no problem creating a controversy where none exists.
This is apparent in the continued war against Planned Parenthood, positioning the organization as a baby-killing factory when in reality, it’s the largest provider of comprehensive women’s health care in the country. Without access to its services, there won’t just be an upswing in illegal abortions or unwanted pregnancies, but also increased risk of preventable diseases.
Both sides are also citing the reduction of abortions as a victory for their ideology. The pro-life movement declares that reduced access to abortions is a win. But for pro-choice advocates, the idea was never to encourage abortions but to provide a variety of reproductive choices to women of all income levels so there would be fewer unwanted pregnancies to begin with.
It’s also interesting to note that about half of the women seeking to terminate a pregnancy report using contraception in the month they became pregnant. The argument that if a woman is willing to have sex they should be willing to “face the consequences” is flawed at best since even some of the most reliable contraception choices have a failure rate.
At The NotMom, we’ve been called out now and then for not picking a side when it comes to reproductive politics. Bu,t we have.
While we understand that there are tons of moral questions surrounding the termination of a pregnancy, we also believe that a woman’s body autonomy is an absolute. The argument is never about the sanctity of life but the control of women. This is evident in the issues surrounding abortion as well as birth control and even other seemingly unrelated subjects. It’s even present in the #MeToo movement where it’s apparent that many men view women’s bodies as possessions to be used for one purpose only and when a woman doesn’t comply, abuse and humiliation are the punishments.
In fact, we can also see it in the refusal of many doctors to perform sterilization on under-30 women interested in permanent birth control. Most gynecologists apparently believe that they are being morally objective when they advise that a young woman can’t possibly know what she wants with her life and refuse on the grounds that the woman might, or will, change her mind. But as with abortion, access to full and complete reproductive health services, and the decision which ones to use, should always remain with the women themselves.
The NotMom exists for every woman without children, regardless of how she found herself that way. Some of those women have chosen abortion, and we are more than OK with that.
Roe v. Wade was a turning point in American politics, but it was only the beginning. That’s why we still need to have these conversations 45 years later and will keep talking about it 45 years from now. Abortion issues aren’t always cut and dry, but women’s bodies shouldn’t be used as a pawn in our divisive political discourse.
If you want to know more about current reproductive health rights in the US (and provide your support), check out these organizations.