One of the biggest news stories this week concerns the leak of a draft ruling of the United States Supreme Court which suggests the court has decided to overturn the 1973 case Rove v Wade. If this proves to be true, then individual states would be able to enact their own laws regarding abortion. Many already have done just that, and have been waiting and hoping that the Supreme Court rule in their favour.
The 6-3 decision looks as though it has been made along ideological lines. Most of those justices voting to overturn Roe v Wade stated clearly in Senate confirmation hearings that Roe v Wade was a precedent they would not alter. It seems they lied during their job applications.
I understand how divisive the issue of abortion is and how people on both sides of the argument have deep emotional connections to it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but legislative restrictions can and do have devastating consequences for women. Banning abortion is dangerous and damaging, particularly for poor and minority women who already have difficulty accessing health care services. There are health and economic dangers for vulnerable people who are denied access to reproductive medicine.
Prior to the legalisation of abortion in countries around the world many women in desperation resorted to illegal and dangerous options to terminate pregnancies. If this ruling proves to be correct, they will do so again.
Many of the laws banning abortion in some American states don’t even enable women to seek an abortion in the case of rape or incest. Can you imagine what that must be like for any woman in that situation? It is just plain cruel.
The proponents of these laws say they believe in the sanctity of life, yet this doesn’t always extend to protecting the child after birth. The states with the most punitive abortion laws fall behind when it comes to infant mortality, as well as health and education services for vulnerable and poor families.
In all countries where abortion is legal, and where women have access to contraception and health services, their health and well being is improved.
The debate between those who are pro and those who are anti-abortion has been going on for a long time, and it is not an easy one.
But while academic and legal arguments continue, at the heart of the issue are real people who face a dilemma about how to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.
The right to make a decision around that is no one else’s business. No woman should have to face fear or intimidation over her own reproductive decisions. No matter how uncomfortable or outraged people might feel about abortion, no one has the right to force a woman to go through with a pregnancy she doesn’t want.