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2020 or 1964? Has the Supreme Court Really Progressed?

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

By Gabriella Greenhill

Graphic by Rafael Zavala

"Is it really 2020?” Was the first thought that boggled my mind as soon as I heard about the supreme court's new ruling about birth control. How are we living in the future everyone anticipated but are really living in the past. With the 7-to-2 supreme court ruling in favor of employers, businesses, and universities to opt out from providing free birth control, to women & LGBTQIA+ individuals that use it, through citing religion/moral reasons, it seems as if 2020 is not the future we dreamed of but rather a nightmare of oppression we’re reliving.

After the supreme court case rulings of Griswold v Connecticut in 1965, a ruling in which states could not ban contraceptives for married couples, and Roe v Wade in 1973, a ruling in which a pregnant women can have a safe and legal abortion, it seemed as if the progression of woman’s rights without government restrictions was on the rise. However, in about 32 out of 50 states in the US there are severe restrictions surrounding abortion. Restrictions include:

  • Hyde Amendment: blocks federal Medicaid (largest payer of reproductive health care coverage) from funding abortions - This amendment strips many low-income individuals of essential reproductive healthcare coverage.

  • Federal Abortion Ban: criminalizes abortions during the second trimester of pregnancy - This federal ban prevents many needed abortions for the sake of the pregnant woman’s health.

  • Federal & State 20-Weeks Ban: criminalizes doctors for providing constitutionally protected healthcare and prevents them from informing their patients about every healthcare option available.

  • Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers (TRAP): are unprecedented requirements that healthcare facilities must uphold. One regulation is that hallways in the healthcare facility must be of a certain measured width - These regulations have absolutely nothing to do with a woman’s healthcare and have everything to do with completely undermining facilities and directly catering towards anit-abortion wants as these regulations ultimately shut down abortion clinics.

  • Imposed mandatory waiting periods: prevents women from receiving an abortion as soon as possible after consulting with a doctor - These waiting periods can be anywhere from 24-72hrs after a woman’s initial consolation with her doctor.

It is quite daunting to have to list out restrictions on an already recognized, constitutionalized, and essential form of healthcare, because of the supreme court's very own ruling in Roe vl Wade. It’s even more daunting to categorize the supreme court as more of an oppressor towards women & LGBTQIA+ individuals than an ally or supporter. While providing access for abortions is defiantly categorized as something great, the supreme court is being rather confusing and even hypocritical with their passing of the Federal Abortion Ban in 2007. Within this ban the supreme court granted politicians to interfere in people’s reproductive healthcare decisions and criminalizes abortions in the second trimester. How were they able to pass access to safe and legal abortions in 1973 but pass restrictions to that already constitutionalized ruling and form of healthcare in 2007? How is it that we are progressing forward numerically but are descending socially and politically?

Numerically, we are indeed in 2020 but it feels as if we are really in 1964. Instead of progressing from the year 1965, where the supreme court case Griswold v Connecticut ruled in favor of legalizing contraceptives for married couples, it feels as if we, and more so the supreme court, are stuck in the year 1964; a time in which birth control was illegal in 8 states even after being approved for contraceptive uses in 1960. How can we say we are in the year 2020 when we are in fact moving backwards with the newly supreme court ruling that favors oppressing women & LGBTQIA+ individuals. On July 8th, 2020, the supreme court ruled that any universities, businesses, employers, and etc. Establishments that once provided free birth control can oppose providing this healthcare if they have any religious or moral objections. Preventing women and even non-binary or transgender individuals from obtaining free birth control is indeed a form of oppression.

Like many women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we are confused as to how the supreme court can be so supportive and constitutionalize abortion, contraceptives, and LGBTQIA+ rights but also constitutionalize restrictions of the same topics? Could it be that the supreme court, as a whole, doesn’t seem to want to cater towards women or LGBTQIA+ individuals? How could they implicate a ruling in which businesses, universities, & employers have the right to not provide free birth control? It’s almost as if they don’t understand or want to understand that birth control isn’t just used for preventing pregnancy but also used for:

  • Regulating menstrual cycles: helps decrease or increase blood flow if you have irregularities

  • Alleviates period cramps

  • Alleviates hormonal acne

  • Alleviates menstrual migraines

  • Helps manage endometriosis: a condition where the lining of your uterus grows in other places beside the uterus

  • Relieves symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) & PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)

We see the supreme court indeed institutionalize appropriate ruling such as granting protection for individuals discriminated against for sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, but it is evident that they lack compassion about their own rulings which support women and LGBTQIA+ individuals. If they really cared, wouldn’t there already have been protection for discriminated individuals? Wouldn’t they not have allowed businesses to not provide free birth control? Wouldn’t they also defund Viagra like they have with birth control? Wouldn’t there be no restrictions when surrounding abortions? Wouldn’t we already be living in the future where women and LGBTQIA+ members aren’t oppressed?

Written by writer Gabriella Greenhill

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