Women have endured a long and arduous path to achieve equality. One of the biggest strides towards progress was granted by The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 though its ruling on a landmark case, Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protected a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. Women were now empowered to have autonomy over their own body and the ability to make their own decisions regarding their health and their future. The fight for equality achieved a monumental victory.
In 2022, The U.S. Supreme Court took that right away.
To deny women a constitutional right, which by definition is a fundamental right that you are born with, sets a scary and dangerous precedent for other constitutional rights: same sex marriage, birth control, trans rights, emancipation, due process, voting, etc.… Any constitutional right that has been granted to a human being is no longer sacred, as it can’t be assumed that we will always have these inalienable rights. The Handmaid's Tale is not just a dystopian idea anymore.
We need to all understand that this is not about abortion and protecting children. If that were the case, then we would be offering more social supports; not continually cutting funding to programs and welfare. Our focus would be, and should be, on discussing early and continuing sex education, free birth control, healthcare for all, parental leave, increasing WIC, hard sentencing for rape, fixing the foster care system, and making adoption more accessible. We set women and families up for failure if we do not provide them the tools, resources, and assistance to be able to raise a child.
Overturning Roe v. Wade isn’t about protecting children; it’s about control, plain and simple.
Since the dawn of time, women had two options in life: be a wife and/or be a mother. If a woman deviated from this expected path through life, they were labelled as a deviant and written off in society. Women had no other value. Heaven forbid a woman wants to have accomplishments other than being a wife and mother. It’s currently perceived that getting married is somehow the biggest accomplishment a woman can achieve. The character Daphne in Bridgerton understood this all too well: “This is all I have been raised for. This… is all I am. I have no other value. If I am unable to find a husband, I shall be worthless.”….“Unlike you I cannot simply declare I do not wish to marry. I do not have such privilege.”” Sex for women has also always been stigmatized. A woman must always maintain an image of being chaste and demure; and sex for a woman can never be just for pleasure. Women are told to abstain from sex until marriage, but men don’t receive quite the same messaging.
Roe v. Wade gave all women the right to make their own decisions about their health, family, life, finances, academic or career aspirations - everything. Deciding to become a parent is one the most important choices someone will ever take on and one of the greatest responsibilities. Some individuals, however, don’t want children, are just not in a good place (financially, life stage, relationship, etc.), or perhaps it isn’t the right time for them. Women deserve to have a choice and should not be forced into giving birth or raising a child.
Giving a child up for adoption instead isn’t an ideal solution either. There are so many children in bad/traumatic foster care situations and some who sometimes never get adopted. Foster children can also grow-up with devastating self-esteem issues and other complex mental health challenges. Notwithstanding the challenges of adoption, pregnancy itself is a very challenging and sometimes dangerous endeavour for a woman as well.
Statistics show that most women who have abortions are women of colour and women who are poor. We need to once and for all recognize that this is also an issue about race and socioeconomic status. The reversal of Roe v Wade further disenfranchises an already marginalized population. As Viola Davis writes in her autobiography “if you have choices, you are privileged. He who has choices has resources.”…”You know, when you’re poor, you live in an alternate reality. It’s not that we have problems different from everyone else, but we don’t have the resources to mask them.” We know that lack of access to female health clinics and contraception disproportionately impacts low-income women, as well as racial minorities (Hispanics, Blacks, Indigenous).
For everyone saying, “it’s not illegal, it’s just now a state issue. Just go out and vote in your local elections.” I’m sorry (not sorry), but we have already fought this fight, and won. Now you want us to fight for our rights all over again? Every woman now must live in constant fear that if they ever have new governors or senators who don’t support a woman’s right to choose, then abortion could be banned in their state.
Others argue that if it’s not legal in your state to then just travel to a place where it is. Not everyone has that same privilege either: to have access to transportation and funds for travel. Some people are out of touch with this reality and the challenges financially insecure people face and the disadvantages that lay before them.
Women have always had to fight for our rights, because we are not equal and have to fight for everything that is just granted to men. We fought for the right to contraception, the right to work, the right to vote, the right to control our bodies, the right to own property or have bank accounts without a husband’s permission. Why should the fight for women’s rights stop? Our work is not done, and you will hear our voices.