Hello my Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I am going to be talking about Roe vs Wade. It has been pretty impossible as of late to avoid this topic in the news. And for good reason. The talk of over turning this landmark decision could have major impact on the way the all of us receive health care. Because the truth is that Roe vs Wade is about a lot more then just abortion rights. So, let’s get into it.
The first thing that I want to bring up about Roe vs Wade is that this case did not change the number of abortions that were happening in America every year. The estimated number of abortions before and after this decision was about 1 million. The difference was that after this decision, those abortions were legal. Why does that point matter? Well, it matters because it is important to know that making abortion illegal isn’t going to keep women from having abortions. When they were illegal, the same number were happening. The only difference is that when they are legal procedures, they are regulated and thus much safer procedures. When you are performing a medical procedure illegally, you by default, are going to be performing that procedure in less than ideal circumstances. This means that just as many pregnancies are being terminated whether abortion is legal or not. However, abortion being legal does have a major impact on how many of those women survive those procedures.
So, if you are against abortion, I think it worth considering that making abortion illegal doesn’t actually achieve the end that you are aiming for. There will not be a reduction in the number of pregnancies terminated. There will be an increase in the number of women who die. There will be an increase in criminal cases. There will be an increase in court and jail costs to process all these cases. Doctors and women will go to jail for the choices that they made. This means that the country will be spending money to punish people for doing something rather then for preventing them from doing it. Is this the best way for us to be spending our money? We will be removing doctors from practice in a time when we are already facing a national shortage of health care providers of all kinds.
In reality, research has shown that the best way to reduce the number of abortions each year is to ensure that women have access to free birth control. Yup. Birth control is the answer to preventing abortions. This means that if you want to prevent abortions, maintaining Roe vs Wade is essential since it is what is also protecting women’s rights to having access to birth control. From a medical perspective, it is not realistic to believe that we will ever achieve zero abortions. There are going to always be cases of pregnancies that are not viable and those that put the mother’s life at risk. And it’s important to remember that if the mother dies, the pregnancy won’t make it either so these cases are not about saving one in favor of the other.
I’m sure by this point, you are aware that I am in favor of abortion being legal. I base this largely on my ethical belief of the importance of medical autonomy. When considering the issue of abortion from the perspective of medical autonomy the question that arises is: “Does the life of another have any impact on the legal decisions that a person can make regarding their own body?” The answer based on medical autonomy is no, which means that there is no condition in which abortion should not be legally allowed. If we begin to make medical autonomy conditional one must ask under what conditions will that autonomy then apply? Clearly, having medical autonomy only makes ethical sense if one is always legally allowed to make decisions for their body. This means that you can choose not to donate blood even if another person’s life depends on it. And really, there is no difference when considering abortion even if you believe that life begins at conception. Thus, this question of when life begins is irrelevant. Because a person is never legally required to consider the life of another person when they are making a medical choice regarding their own body.
Medical autonomy is an essential medical right that none of us are interested in giving up. It is this right that allows us to make choices about our care. This right allows us to choose if we are going to take a medication or not. It gives us the right to choose if we are going to have a surgery or not. It is this right that allows us to choose to donate blood, bone marrow or even a kidney to those that are in need and might die without them. Medical autonomy is what allows us to have control over our bodies. Because we have this right and because this right supersedes the needs of others, abortion should be legal without any conditions. A woman should always have the right to choose regarding her body even if it goes against what another person might need in order to remain alive. That’s what medical autonomy is supposed to protect.
I personally believe that medical autonomy is the most sacred of the patients’ rights and under no conditions should it be allowed to be compromised. I do not want to live in a country that will allow others to decide what happens to my body for me. Regardless if that decision is about what medications I am taking or what surgeries I am having. Nor do I believe that the life of another person should have any legal impact or sway on those decisions that I make. As someone with chronic illness, I am making medical decisions for my body on a daily basis. The idea of loosing that right is terrifying. Protecting abortion rights is protecting the right of medical autonomy.
Whether or not you are for the legalization of abortion or not, it is important to understand that this is not limited to just the issue of abortion. There are numerous other rights that have been founded upon the case law that Roe vs Wade has established. The right to privacy is the basis which Roe vs Wade is founded upon. This right, because of Roe vs Wade, extends to protect many things. The right to privacy is the basis for other Supreme Court decisions; this draft decision is a slippery slope and could open the door to overturning those other decisions. They include decisions regarding contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut), who we marry (Loving v. Virginia, re: interracial marriage), who we live with (Moore v. East Cleveland, re: a grandmother living with grandsons), what languages are taught in schools (Meyer v. Nebraska), bearing children (Skinner v. Oklahoma, re: forcible sterilization) who we love (Lawrence v. Texas, re: homosexual rights) and what we read (Stanley v. Georgia, re: adult pornography in one’s home). All of these are sitting firmly upon the right to privacy that is currently under fire in the way of the attack against Roe vs Wade.
Roe vs Wade established the right to privacy as more then being just an implied right, but rather one that is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. This creates a foundation for many important legal decisions that were made later and were based upon Roe vs Wade case law. It is this right to privacy that allows us to home school our children or send them to a private religious school instead of public school. It is this right to privacy that HIPAA laws are based upon. It is this right to privacy that all medical autonomy is founded upon. Not to mention that it is this right to privacy that keeps the government out of our lives in general (phone tapping, video surveillance etc.). If the court files their legal opinion as it is written now, in that leaked draft, that right to privacy will be in jeopardy. If this right to privacy is revoked, because the case law upon which it is founded is over turned, then you will no longer have these basic rights.
In the worst case scenario, without Roe vs Wade:
- You will not be able to obtain birth control
- You will not be allowed to marry someone of a different race
- You will not be allowed to choose who you live with
- You will not be allowed to choose which languages your child is taught
- The government could sterilize you against your will and without telling you
- You will not be allowed to marry someone of the same sex
- You will not be allowed to choose to home school your children or send them to private religious schools
- Medical facilities will no longer be required to keep your medical records confidential
- You will no longer have the right to your medical information
- You will no longer have medical autonomy (which means that you cannot say no to donating a kidney or giving blood or having a surgery or anything else that a doctor or the government believes you should do)
- The government will be allowed to legally record you without you knowing about it without cause
- And many other horrifying things that could all be put at risk if the privacy laws are undermined with the overturning of Roe vs Wade
Clearly, this is not just about abortion law and this is not just about women’s rights. Maintaining the integrity of the privacy laws is essential to the core basic freedoms of all people of the United States. It is not just about a small group of people needing to be protected with this law. It is about all people needing to be protected. Roe vs Wade is the corner stone case law that upholds our essential rights and freedoms.
The draft also reflects strict constructionism, showing a preference for limiting interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to what is explicitly mentioned, and a narrow interpretation of what are “deeply rooted” historical events. This is another slippery slope, considering that basic rights in the original Constitution were not extended to women or people of color. Not to mention that you also had to be a landowner. This means that those who would be protected for anything by the Constitution as explicitly written are the rich, white men. That’s it. No one else. Are we really interested in going back to that literal of an interpretation of our Constitution?
While I find it comforting that the majority of Americans see the inherent value of Roe vs Wade, I know that the Supreme Court is not legally obligated to make its decision in alignment with the majority opinion of the country. This, unto itself, is an alarming fact. Why is it that the Supreme Court is allowed to make a decision about the laws of this country that is in direct defiance to the will of the people? The nature of democracy is such that the majority is supposed to be the deciding factor. But that’s not, in fact, how decisions are made in this country. Despite the fact that there are two times as many people who believe Roe vs Wade should remain intact than there are people who believe that it should be over turned, it still stands in jeopardy.
I also find it horrifying that this was something that they were going to be deciding upon in secret. The only reason that the people know anything about this decision is because it was leaked. How is it legal for the Supreme Court to make decisions on laws that will fundamentally impact our rights while they are behind closed doors and in secret? The Supreme Court is supposed to be an agent for the people and as such should be working in clear view, in the public eye. Every decision that they make should come with public discourse that should be then considered prior to the decision being made. After all, they are supposed to be making decisions on behalf of the people and those decisions are suppose to reflect the desires and beliefs of the majority. So, why all the smoke and shadows?
Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!