The landmark Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 enshrined an individual’s choice to get an abortion, championing freedom at both the federal and state level. In 2022, the nation sits on the edge of a precipice, with the Supreme Court inches from desecrating the foundations of liberty this nation prides itself on.
The recently leaked draft Supreme Court majority opinion on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case calls for the overturn of Roe v. Wade, alongside other landmark cases that have protected the right of abortion since 1973. The majority opinion was backed by Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett.
The critical difference between the Supreme Court and the other branches of government is that Supreme Court Justices serve for life. Life terms are meant “to ensure an independent Judiciary and to protect judges from partisan pressures.”
Nonetheless, when all five proponents of overturning Roe v. Wade were appointed by Republican presidents, one has to wonder whether this was a decision based on merit or party identification.
Should this draft opinion be the final verdict, five judges will have eradicated every woman's constitutionally protected right to choose. The political leaning of five individuals holds the power to further constrain women’s bodies.
We at The Daily Cardinal recognize the position we hold within the campus community, and we seek to use our voices to stand for what we believe is right. Simply put, we will not stand for this repudiation of reproductive rights.
What does an overturn of Roe v. Wade mean?
An overturn of Roe v. Wade will not ban abortions. Rather, it represents a retraction of constitutionally guaranteed protection. Abortion laws will become a state issue.
Allowing states to individually decide to give or take away women’s right to abortions means giving predominantly male state governments power to regulate female bodies and interfere in a decision which is simply not theirs to make.
In Wisconsin, it has been illegal to perform an abortion since 1849. If declared unconstitutional, the reversal of Roe will immediately restore this law which — if enforced — states that anyone who performs an abortion, including physicians, are guilty of a felony.
The only legal abortion procedures in Wisconsin — if Roe is overturned — include those performed by a physician in a necessary attempt to “save the life of the mother and performed in a licensed maternity hospital, unless in an emergency,” according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
This regression to state law will have a disproportionate impact on communities of color in Wisconsin that have experienced long-standing and stark racial disparities in pregnancy health. This will further exacerbate existing inequities in our healthcare system.
At present, 26 states are cited as being likely or certain to ban abortions with an overturn of Roe v. Wade. Observing trends in countries where abortions are currently banned confirm that such measures do not stop abortions. Rather, they force mothers into unsafe abortions.
Further, criminalizing abortions only adds pernicious stigma to a medical procedure that should involve no one other than the individual in question. Individuals should make the decision best for them — not for others.
What can we do?
The United States government — in theory — is meant to be representative of the people. Yet, when the majority of Americans support the right to abortions, a government acting against these wishes exemplifies a flawed system.
The way to correct this discrepancy is to vote. In reverting power to the states to decide reproductive rights, we must ensure those in power mirror our beliefs.
Still, voting does not certify our values are protected and those impacted have adequate access to assistance. Activism in the form of giving, speaking up and staying informed can be the best line of defense.
Government officials who wish to stay in power must represent the wishes of their constituents. To ensure abortion protection is at the top of the agenda, we must make these opinions known and clear.
Now more than ever — speak up. The autonomy of women very well depends on it.
Further, Planned Parenthood has already pledged to help those who must travel into a different state to receive an abortion. Supporting such organizations can ensure lower income individuals receive proper medical care.
At the very least, we can make an impact by simply staying cognizant. After all, an educated population is an empowered population, and likely the strongest hope to combat the harmful rhetoric surrounding abortions.
As the final verdict of the Supreme Court looms, we implore fellow students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to reflect on how an overturn of Roe v. Wade impacts your body, as well as the bodies of your peers.
Understand your rights. Understand the law. Understand what the government is attempting to take.