Reproductive rights under attack

Women’s constitutional rights face increasing challenges

Hailey Griffin, Staff Writer

In the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade case, the Supreme Court ruled that it is a woman’s constitutional right to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy until the fetus reaches viability.  

When this was decided, abortion became accessible across the country, granting women the bodily autonomy that they deserved and making safe abortions an option. Since then, we’ve seen multitudes of situations where laws seeking to restrict access to abortions have failed.  

Take the 1983 City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health case, for example, or the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case. Looking toward these past examples, I had felt a sense of security in knowing that my reproductive freedom had protections that weren’t liable to go away. 

Or so I thought. Lately, this sense of security has been fleeting.  

At the beginning of Sept., the Supreme Court approved Senate Bill 8, referred to as SB 8, in Texas; it is the “most restrictive [abortion law] in the country,” according to the New York Times. As a part of SB 8, it is unlawful for a woman to get an abortion six weeks into pregnancy.

Most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant until then. Furthermore, many at-home pregnancy tests can take up two weeks to detect pregnancy—a period in which an already grossly short time span to access abortion grows even shorter.  

Not only does SB 8 ban abortions at the six-week mark; it makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and it also encourages citizens to report and sue anyone — including doctors and clinic staff, to name a few — assisting in giving someone access to abortions. 

The fact that the Supreme Court would even think to pass such a draconian law instills both fear and anger in my bones, and likely the bones of many other women around the nation. It is unsettling, but perhaps not so shocking, as the now conservative majority within the Supreme Court has made apparent their stances against abortion in the past.  

What is even more unsettling is the fact that a week from now, on Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear arguments—prompted by a Mississippi law that makes abortion illegal after 15 weeks—about overturning Roe v. Wade. Who is to say that they won’t overturn it? Let the decision to pass SB 8 be an example that erasure of any reproductive justice that existed before is not entirely impossible.  

If this were to happen, it is highly probable that we’d see a wave of restrictive abortion laws surface across the country. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are 26 states already poised to ban abortion. 

Twelve of these 26 states have “trigger” laws in accordance with Roe v. Wade, meaning that if the case were overturned, abortion bans would take effect immediately. 

And what would that mean for the thousands of women who don’t have the financial means to travel to another state to obtain a safe abortion? Unsafe abortion practices would resurface and exist just as they did pre-Roe v. Wade. The well-being of women — especially women from low-income households and women of color, who already face socioeconomic inequities and a racist health care system — around the country is at risk.   

Women’s constitutional rights and safety are at stake now more than ever. Wherever you stand on this issue, you must realize that what is being proposed regarding Roe v. Wade, and what has been enacted already in Texas, is unconstitutional and must not be tolerated.