The irony of receiving a text from my roommate that a draft opinion had been leaked regarding a private SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade while I sat in my favorite female empowerment club was astounding. I turned to my friend and whispered “this has to be one of those fake links right?” as she opened a similar message on her phone to find a BREAKING NEWS headline as we scrolled wide-eyed and shocked. Every single woman in this room would be affected by this decision in one way or another, and none of us had a say in what seemed to be occurring.
The landmark case decided in 1973—which protects pregnant individuals’ right to have an abortion without excessive restriction—has never gone without backlash. In recent years, as the Supreme Court began to tilt towards a Republican holding, the issue returned to the public eye and became highly contentious. Ironically enough, the decision’s biggest enemies tend to lack a uterus and a general understanding of reproductive rights. Even better, the judge who wrote the leaked opinion—Samuel A. Alito Jr.—has no uterus, and most likely has no intent to adopt every child that will result from the move towards a pro-birth society. Let me be very clear: reproductive rights are human rights, and this is a direct attack on those rights.
The last thing I want to hear is that this came out of left field, or it was unprecedented, or anything else about how this could not have been expected. The Trump era ushered in white misogynists that opened discourse on rolling back 50 years worth of progress in the name of being pro-life, and most of the warning fell on deaf ears. There may be a temptation to breathe a sigh of relief if you reside in some of the states that are likely to support legal access to abortion, but I urge you to analyze the privilege that seeps through that view. Abortions will not cease; what will happen is pregnant individuals will seek back-alley, unsafe, illegitimate alternatives, or will be forced to bear children and pray for support from a thin safety net that casts aside poor and oppressed people as nuisances.
There is nothing pro-life about a movement that disproportionately targets the poor, Black, Latinx, underage, uninsured, and undocumented. The same representatives of the supporters of a movement that preaches the ‘inherent value of the unborn’ are those who strike down comprehensive family planning measures, funding for child care, and paid family leave. In this era, to be “pro-life” means to support denying comprehensive sex-ed, restricting access to birth control, forcing people to give birth, and providing absolutely no economic, social, or physical support afterwards.
The 98-page draft opinion starts off strong, citing abortion as a profound moral issue. Naturally, something being seen as a profound moral issue to devout Christian men means that it must immediately be cast in the same light for everyone else. Of course, religion has no place in our laws except for when it comes to abortion, where the white Christian says that it offends his faith, so obviously everyone should agree with his plan to ban it. The opinion continues, stating that the right to decide abortion rights should be left to the elected representatives, but I don't think a single soul wants Ted Cruz to have power over their body. Also, may I propose the view that if there are differences in opinion regarding the morality of abortion, that it be left to each individual person to decide if they would have one? That is the entire premise of the Pro-Choice Movement: the freedom to act on our bodily autonomy.
The Anti-Choice Movement clings to the belief that life begins at conception and the unborn desperately need advocates for their rights. Here is a list of others who deserve advocates, yet are consistently forgotten in the political world:
- Undocumented immigrants seeking asylum
- Individuals with disabilities
- The Black community
- Youth impacted by systems that uphold poverty
- Survivors of sexual violence, especially women
- Native American populations whose land has been stolen and exploited
- Trans individuals and other members of the LGBTQ+ community
There is no shortage of living individuals who deserve to have their rights protected and advocated for. Groups of people who have consistently been marginalized, forgotten, and actively oppressed by social systems, and will now become the main victims of an overturned ruling. Alito’s intentional mention of protected access to abortion as having “damaging consequences” makes me wonder who exactly bore the brunt of said consequences? I wonder if he considered the survivors of sexual assault, teenage individuals, homeless, under-resourced, unprepared, and simply unwilling individuals that were able to make the correct decision for themselves, thanks to the freedoms protected by Roe v. Wade. Maybe he forgot that pregnant individuals deserve human rights and not just the unborn beings. I don’t blame him; when you don’t have a uterus and cannot be forced to carry a child, it is easy to forget these minor freedoms that years of advocacy provided people.
It is natural to feel fear surrounding this leaked opinion. We do not expect to have our basic bodily autonomy threatened at a time in our lives where these rights seem most important. Unfortunately, this is our reality—having to sit and wait as men decide the fate of our reproductive rights. The weight of this decision will weigh heaviest on communities that are already forced to be second thoughts to our nation’s politicians. This is happening, and the threat to our bodily autonomy is real. The right to make decisions about one’s own body is not a privilege, it is a right that is now on track to being constitutionally denied.