By: Katie Barker
Pro-Choice protestors on the steps of the Supreme Court on June 24th 2022
Image via Time
As political turmoil grips the country, teens across America rally in protest, or in some cases, support of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the constitutional right to legal abortions in the United States. As Roe has been the law of the land for almost 50 years, for many of us, Roe has been a safety net, a right that females around the country utilize with safe, legal abortions. Roe was a security blanket, a safeguard for the terrifying what-ifs, knowing that if our lives were in danger due to pregnancy, Roe was there for us. That safety is gone.
Roe in the Past
Previous to the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973, Abortion rights and criminality were subjected to the states, where most Republican-dominated states enforced strict anti-abortion laws and criminalized its practice. Since 1976, the Republican party initiated restrictions to abortion access, mainly based on fetus age and gestation period past the third trimester. After former President Donald Trump's election in 2016, conservatives around the country began to push anti-abortion agendas in red states. With Trump's appointment of a historic two new justices (Coney-Barret and Kavanaugh), both conservative-leaning, the Supreme Court was once again dominated by the Right, threatening Roe’s survival. In May 2022, Politico released a leak from the desk of Justice Samual Alito, outlining the court's upcoming actions to flip Roe. On June 24th, in the case Dobbs v. Jackson's Women’s health organization, a 5–to-4 vote (Alito, Kavanaugh, Coney-Barret, Gorsuch, Roberts vs. Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer, Thomas) confirm the leaked outline and officially overturned Roe V. Wade.
Today’s generation: Opposition or Support?
Support or opposition of Roe varies between political alignment, age and gender, but some of the most vocal advocates and protestors, are the youth of America. The Pew poll (updated in 2022) found that 67% of 18-29-year-olds believe abortion should be legal, compared to 53% of those 50 and up. While Pro-choice youth argue for the autonomy of their bodies on the steps of the Supreme Court, Pro-life teens celebrate the advocation for unborn children and a long fight to flip SCOTUS and Senate majority to further anti-abortion laws. But for many teens, abortion is an incredibly nuanced and complex topic, consequently dominated in conversation by adults.
Celebrations within a Pro-life rally in the Capitol
Image via Politco
Healthcare by the Numbers
While the overturning of Roe impacts the safety of women around the country in terms of abortions, it also questions the methods and access of birth control in the US as well. Today almost 40% of females ages 15-19 use methods of contraceptives, most of who get birth control access through women's healthcare clinics. The circle of poor healthcare continues when healthcare clinics in red states are outlawed, limiting contraceptive access for citizens without health insurance, and therefore using abortions as the method of pregnancy termination. Many medical professionals fear for the safety of women who will seek under-the-table abortions, which are dangerous and potentially deadly without access to safe abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood.
The Protection of Roe
Women across the country for the last three decades were raised and educated with the protectiveness of Roe. Those lucky enough to live in the 16 states that will keep abortion legal will continue to have that safety. Those who live in 18 red states will face trigger laws expected to be implicated within the next 30 days post- Roe. Resources have already been developed to work around the bans in states like Texas, where women can order abortion pills to separate addresses in pro-abortion states. Or employers like Tesla and Amazon, who will cover all travel costs for employees seeking an out-of-state abortion. But for those in poverty, those alternatives aren't possible. The overturning of Roe impacts minorities and women under the poverty line drastically more than middle to upper class, as the costs for contraception and abortions without health insurance are astronomical.
Fundamentally, the SCOTUS decision has our questioning trust in our legislators and our trust in our country. America prides itself on our freedom and our liberty, it is the beating heart of our country, it is what makes our country special, and yet we have never felt more restricted. Our fight is not about bipartisan politics, our fight is about our freedom, and the hope that someday, we will know that freedom again.
Written by writer Katie Barker