In 1973, an historic U.S. Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, granted accessible pathways for women to have legal abortions well within their constitutional right. Now Roe v. Wade is deemed at risk and if overturned will impact the roughly 25 million women and girls of reproductive age in America.
The potential overturning of Roe v. Wade could take legal abortion out of the hands of one-third of people ages 15–49, according to Planned Parenthood statistics.
The figures are based on populations in over 20 states that have a combination of pre-Roe v. Wade bans, “trigger bans,” which would automatically make abortion illegal if Roe falls, and/or legislatures with an established history of passing abortion restrictions.
Roe v. Wade might be overturned as the Supreme Court hears a case that could set a new beginning for pro-lifers.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the latest case at the center of the reproductive controversy. A Mississippi appellate court ruled on a decision that would throw out a previous-standing law banning abortions past 15 weeks in the state. Mississippi has decided to appeal the decision to the highest court in the American justice system. Since the 1973 decision that determined pregnancy or its termination is an individual’s right to decide, the Supreme Court has not had to decide on a law that bans the act.
Although Michigan has no bans on abortion, The Center for Reproductive Rights has created a tool that labels the mitten state as a hostile state meaning legislators could outlaw abortions altogether in the state should the courts decide in favor of Mississippi.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 women in their 20s accounted for over half, 58 percent, of abortions, with the majority taking place before the 13-week mark and the overall number of abortions on the decline. From 2009 to 2018, the number of terminations fell by 22 percent and the rate declined by 24 percent.
Of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, six identify as conservatives. Viability is at the center of the controversy. Medically slated to begin at roughly 24 weeks, viability determines the earliest moment a fetus could survive outside the womb. The Supreme Court began hearing the case in October with a decision expected by June 2022.
Earlier this year, in late January, the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade landmark ruling was celebrated with remarks by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris remarks.
“In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack. We are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care – including reproductive health care – regardless of income, race, zip code, health insurance status, or immigration status,” noted the Biden-Harris Administration, which declared itself as “committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe.”
“We are also committed to ensuring that we work to eliminate maternal and infant health disparities, increase access to contraception and support families economically so that all parents can raise their families with dignity,” per their statement. “This commitment extends to our critical work on health outcomes around the world.”
On June 22, the Right to Life of Michigan Education shared its viewpoint on The Women’s Right to Know Act, which was introduced that day in the Michigan House.
Sponsored by Rep. Sue Allor, HB 5086 addresses three areas of informed consent for women seeking abortions: abortion pill reversal, heartbeat/miscarriage awareness and prenatal diagnosis of a disability. Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “Abortion businesses try hard to keep women in the dark. They don’t want women to understand the reality of abortion and its effects on them and their children. This legislation would address several areas where women are not being given proper informed consent before abortions.”
Cicely Allen, of the Wisdom Institute, a Detroit-based Black grassroots organization, told the Michigan Chronicle that the organization advocates for human rights, water affordability and reproductive justice.
“We believe women should have full control over our reproductive futures,” Allen said, adding that the female-led organization, which started in the late nineties, advocates and believes in the transformative power of healing generations of trauma for Black women.
Allen said that part of the trauma Black women faced is not being able to have a say over their bodies, which stems from enslavement and forced breeding among other atrocities faced and keeping Roe v. Wade intact is the right answer.
“Really, if Roe is overturned next spring we will be moving backward,” Allen said. “For centuries, Black women always had reproductive systems in the hands of those in power. We deserve full autonomy over our bodies. We will be moving in the opposite direction of freedom and liberation if Roe is overturned.”
Staff Writer Megan Kirk contributed to this report.