The Roe v. Wade Overturn is not about Protecting the Unborn

OHS+students+at+a+reproductive+rights+protest.+Photo+by+Alayna+Winstead-Coby.

OHS students at a reproductive rights protest. Photo by Alayna Winstead-Coby.

Andrea Rachita, Journalist

On May 2nd, 2022, an initial opinion drafted by Justice Alito that would overturn the cases of Roe v. Wade (which granted all women in the United States the right to an abortion) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which prevented local governments from making laws that would excessively restrict a woman’s ability to get an abortion) was leaked. This decision could have a resounding impact on millions of Americans.

The ethics of abortion are widely debated. When does life begin? What constitutes life? Where does your body start and another begin? However, aside from the ethical debates, there are the questions of women’s mortality. According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, unsafe abortions conducted in countries where the procedure is illegal result in the deaths of almost 70,000 women per year, constituting almost 13% of pregnancy-related deaths. Additionallly, the rates of abortion in countries where the procedure is illegal are similar to the rates of abortions in which abortion is legal. If restricting abortion does not decrease the number of abortions performed, but unsafe abortions lead to higher death rates for women, then by restricting abortion lives are not saved but lost.

With the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision will come the restriction of abortion in dozens of U.S. states. There is ample historical precedent highlighting the ineffectiveness of abortion bans. For example, abortion was banned in communist Romania under the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, along with all other forms of birth control, even pregnancy tests. These bans lead to the deaths of 9,000 Romanian women – keeping in mind that the total population of Romania at the time was 19 million, around the current population of New York state. Though this example may seem quite extreme – after all, we are only talking about abortion here, and not other forms of birth control – certain American states are approaching a similar environment. During a press conference, governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi refused to rule out the possibility of restrictions on contraception. Legislators in Louisiana and Idaho are considering implementing policies that would restrict or even criminalize birth control. Senators and senatorial candidates such as Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn or Arizona’s Blake Masters are also denouncing Griswold v. Connecticut, a Supreme Court case that struck down laws restricting married couples from using birth control.

All of these attacks on birth control raise the question of whether or not the issue of abortion is really about preserving the life of the unborn. The common pro-life stance is that life begins at conception. However, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, lawmakers are trying to create policies that would take effect before conception even takes place. It would appear that these policymakers are not attempting to prevent abortion, but rather to force pregnancy. If the goal were to prevent the abortion of fetuses, then access to other forms of birth control should increase, so that unwanted pregnancies do not occur. No one is harmed, not even potential life, because it does not exist. However, by banning abortion and birth control, women are forced into a position where they must face unwanted pregnancy, which will likely end poorly for the woman and the child. A couple of many potential difficulties are that the American foster care system is overworked, and wage stagnation makes it incredibly difficult to find the $12,000 it takes on average to raise a kid for a year. The alternative is to get an unsafe abortion that may cost a woman’s life. In states where abortion is legal, healthcare providers will be overwhelmed, as a handful of states will need to take care of the needs of the entire population.

The fact of the matter is that abortion is not always the most palatable topic. It can be uncomfortable and even heartbreaking. But the reality is that no one is saved with the restriction of abortion. When we prioritize the needs of the fetus over the needs of the already living mother, all it results in is more orphans, dead or injured women, and the same amount of abortions.