By: Valerie Hinkle
As we come off the heels of the Fourth of July weekend, let us think about what exactly we are celebrating. Independence Day is meant to celebrate the United States, but can we really feel patriotic given the current state of this country? This year we’ve seen an incredible reversal of human rights enacted by our supposed “representatives.” We must sober up to the reality of our situation.
When the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked at the beginning of May, the people of the US were outraged by this rights-infringing decision. Two months later, it was officially overturned, leaving the legality of abortion to each state. On June 30th, six days after the decision, Politico published an article with a map of the US depicting abortion laws by state. So far, nine states have officially made abortion illegal with four more soon to follow. Many other states are in between, but fortunately, there are 23 states where abortion is still entirely legal, a reflection of the country’s majority opinion.
But the court’s world-rocking decisions aren’t finished. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade comes speculation about what’s next on the hit list, with Justice Clarence Thomas saying that the court “should reconsider” Griswold v. Connecticut which gave people the right to use contraceptives, Lawrence v. Texas which decriminalized same-sex intimacy, and Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized and protected same-sex marriage, calling them “demonstrably erroneous decisions.” Texas Senator John Cornyn responded by saying, “Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education.” Both overturned racial segregation.
The abortion ruling is a gateway to undo decades of progress and an exercise in solidifying the “state’s rights argument” that was used to fight for the continuation of slavery. This morphing of a human rights issue into a state’s rights issue is a startlingly clear indicator of what could be coming next. The Pew Research Center published a survey on June 13th stating that more than half of all citizens in the country did not want Roe v. Wade overturned, with 63% of all women and 58% of all men surveyed saying that abortion should be legal in most, if not all, cases. This past weekend was supposed to be a celebration of our country and its founding principles, notably our systems of democracy. However, the Supreme Court, an institution that is supposed to be the last stand for Justice, failed to represent its people and directly ruled against what the majority of its citizens wanted.
Abortion has been debated for a long time, with people strongly pro-choice, pro-life, and many in the middle, but the conversation has been focused on morality as opposed to women’s health and rights. We have already seen many states banning all abortion, regardless of circumstance, even if carrying the baby to term presents a health risk for the mother.
We cannot ignore that there are circumstances other than the death of the mother where abortion is a necessary choice to make. In cases of rape or incest, ectopic pregnancies, drug abuse, etc. the danger to the health of the mother and child is too great to justify carrying the fetus to term. Even in cases of minors getting pregnant, like the 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was denied an abortion and forced to travel to Indiana, states aren’t making exceptions.
Women aren’t simply baby incubators whose only meaning in life is to birth children. The SCOTUS ruling is directly controlling women by taking away their bodily autonomy. Why should any woman be forced to go through extreme bodily trauma and be expected to birth and raise a child, sometimes on her own, shouldering that physical, emotional, and mental toll against her will? On top of that, this ruling will disproportionately affect women of color, whose healthcare is not prioritized or taken seriously. Yet another example of civil liberties being taken away from minorities.
The current political climate of the country is also directly responsible for other civil safety issues. There have been over 300 mass shootings in 2022, including Highland Park, Tulsa, Uvalde, and Buffalo, and we are only in July. And yet, the NRA-bribed politicians have done nothing to legislate regulations that will work to eliminate this atrocious gun violence.
We are in a time of extreme political and social unrest, and it is worrying to see our leaders actively dividing us and demanding we pick a side on a lot of these nuanced, hot-button issues. It has become a fight to decide who is right instead of a conversation about how to best protect everyone. This fiercely polarizing environment has encouraged racially motivated hate crimes, mass murder, and social regression that could inevitably change the dynamic of our culture. At the end of the day, choosing abortion is a woman’s right and a medical issue. This SCOTUS decision is a gateway to overturning those that the court deems “substantive due process precedents” as Justice Thomas wrote in his concurrence on this decision citing Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.
It is not too late to turn back this ruling and work to put in place appropriate rules and laws to preserve everyone’s health and wellbeing. It is not too late to fight for our rights. We have to work towards a positive future and strengthen the democratic foundations this country represents. If you don’t celebrate what you want it to be, you lose sight of what it can be. We have to remember what we’re fighting for.
“A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2022.” The New York Times, 6 July 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/article/mass-shootings-2022.html
Forgey, Quint., & Gerstein, Josh. “Justice Thomas: SCOTUS ‘should reconsider’ contraception, same-sex marriage rulings.” Politico, 24 Jun. 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/24/thomas-constitutional-rights-00042256
Hartig, Hanna. “About six-in-ten Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.” Pew Research Center, 13 Jun. 2022. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/06/13/about-six-in-ten-americans-say-abortion-should-be-legal-in-all-or-most-cases-2/
Helmore, Edward. “10-year-old rape victim forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana for abortion.” The Guardian, 3 July 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/03/ohio-indiana-abortion-rape-victim
@JohnCornyn. “Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education.” Twitter, 25 Jun. 2022, 9:34 a.m., https://twitter.com/JohnCornyn/status/1540689961040482306
Messerly, Megan. “Abortion laws by state: Legal status of abortion changing day-by-day after Roe v. Wade overturned.” Politico, 6 July 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/06/abortion-laws-states-roe-overturned-00044127
United States, Supreme Court. “Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.” Argued – 1 Dec. 2021. Decided 24 Jun. 2022. Supremecourt.gov. pp. 117. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf