Roe v. Wade Overturning: What This Could Mean

Rebekah Flores, Publicist

The 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision that gave women the constitutional right to abortion. Now that right is in danger of being taken away.

In a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion, plans to overturn both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a court case from 1992 which maintained abortion rights, was revealed, putting abortion rights on the global agenda once more.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled”, writes Justice Samuel Alito in the draft, labeled “Opinion of the Court”. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives”. This opinion was supported by four other justices.

Unsurprisingly, the decision was faced with some controversy. According to a poll from PBS News Hour, about 64% of people believe that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned in comparison to the 33% that support the overturning. Similarly, a Kaiser Family Foundation Survey from 2020 displayed similar results, with 69% opposed to overturning the amendment in comparison to the 27% that want to overturn the rule.

Personally, while I would prefer to not get an abortion unless necessary, I firmly believe that women should have the right to choose for themselves what they want to do, not have the government decide that for them. Women should not have to fight and protest for a matter that should be human rights. By overturning Roe v. Wade, the government isn’t taking away the ability to get an abortion entirely; only the ability to get a safe, harmless abortion.

What’s more frustrating is that for a draft meant specifically to take away women’s right to abortion, the Supreme Court took quite an extreme approach to it. According to an article from BMJ, the draft holds that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start” as the case was part of a chain of decisions regarding the right to privacy, dating back to Griswold v. Connecticut, a decision regarding the right to purchase and utilize contraceptives without government restriction. The chain of decisions has also discussed topics such as sexual privacy and same-sex marriage alongside contraceptives, therefore if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, these topics could potentially be at risk of being overturned as well. As BMJ puts it, “essentially, the decision argues that rights not familiar to late-nineteenth-century white men are not protected in the Constitution”.

“Overturning Roe opens the door to restricting those rights [of privacy]”, stated Vice President Kamala Harris in a speech defending women’s rights to abortion. “It would be a direct assault on the fundamental right to self-determination, to live and love without interference from the government. At its core, this is about our future as a nation, about whether we live in a country where the government can interfere in personal decisions. This is about our future.”

Overturning Roe v. Wade could lead to some public health implications, as a majority of abortions occur in the first trimester; a time when abortion would be safest. If anything, more often than not an abortion can be safer than carrying out the pregnancy, regardless of one’s age. An article from Duke University suggests that pregnancy-related deaths could have a 21% increase in the years to come should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Because of medical advances, it’s highly unlikely that society will return to 1960s abortion-related deaths where the lives of hundreds of women were taken from risky abortion procedures. However, these medical advances would most likely be harder to obtain should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Not everyone is opposed to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, however. For starters, 26 states are either certain or likely to ban abortion should the amendment be overturned, including Texas, a state which already has an abortion ban in place. Even though 24 states are highly unlikely to ban abortion, almost half of those states won’t have a nearby provider for states with abortion bans, and while I will give Alaska and Hawaii a pass as those two states aren’t connected to the rest of the country (and therefore not as easily accessible to start with), the rest of these states are within the northeast and easy for other states to access. Nonetheless, a majority of Americans would still prefer to not overturn Roe v. Wade altogether.