The recent Supreme Court hearing that overturned a monumental right for a woman to choose what to do with her own body, has succeeded in setting women’s rights back tenfold. Service providers such as Planned Parenthood that not only offer abortion services, but also necessary reproductive healthcare resources, will automatically be impacted. Similar medical facilities will also undoubtedly feel the repercussions from this ruling. Service providers will possibly be held liable by the laws of their state for performing abortion procedures. What the court decision fails to address is the impact that some women who are prevented from receiving life saving services will now suffer. In examining this impact within communities of color, the alarming trend in this country is that when it comes to reproductive health and overall safe pregnancies, we have the highest maternal mortality rate. This can have an even higher increase if all healthcare providers which are already limited in some of our Southern states, cease to operate offering a full range of services. Places such as our southern states already had inadequate clinics and medical facilities to aid their populations. Closing down what was already limited, will exacerbate an already dire situation in these areas. Additionally, this can put a strain on other states where resources for abortion services are accessible. States may see an influx of women traveling to seek less restrictive ministration.
No matter where your viewpoint falls on this topic, the recent ruling has the potential to create a chain reaction when it comes to this society’s freedoms. One can argue hypocrisy when we say it is wrong for a woman to have a right to choose what to do with her own body, yet some of the same people have pushed back on the mitigation strategies used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including, masks and vaccine mandates. A woman's right to have control over her body does not equal in argument over wearing a piece of cloth over your nose.
Where is the outcry for the thousands of lives being lost just trying to have a child within a system flooded with systemic racism? The possibility of this becoming a slippery slope of devastation is inevitable. Imagine being told what medications or contraceptives you can take, how many children you can have, or being forced to have an unwanted pregnancy as a result of rape or incest. Having an abortion is not an easy decision. It is a personal decision that is made by a woman with input from a healthcare provider. The issue here is not whether you believe it is right or wrong. The issue is what hold should a state have over someone’s body and do they have a right to deny treatment?
Politics should not be intertwined with health situations. Abortion and reproductive matters should be private decisions between a woman and her doctor. Instead, men with no vested interest in women's rights made this decision without examining the implications. Who will provide services needed to victims of rape and incest? What happens to women whose lives are in danger if they try to carry to term? What about women who have lethal fetal anomalies? Due to trigger laws, some states will now force women to carry to full term, go through delivery, and then watch their child die. Nowhere has a woman's mental health been factored in and the long term generational implications of having the right to make decisions over your own body being stripped away. The ruling of this standing court has brought about unimaginable devastation for some women depending on which state you live in.
In many ways we have become complacent and dependent on others and have taken our freedoms for granted. It has taken this ruling for people to wake up. One can argue that we are moving towards a dystopian society as depicted in stories such as the Handmaid's Tale. Have we become a society that is bound by what we thought were our freedoms? So many have embraced technology like electronic medical records and menstrual apps with a carefree attitude not realizing that we are literally giving away our most personal information. Now those same mechanisms can possibly be used against you depending on whether you reside in a state with restrictive laws when it comes to abortion. No matter your age or your views, this decision impacts you. This decision will impact the progress made and progress that is still needed for women from marginalized communities and women of color who already have had fatal implications due to the systemic inequalities built into this society’s healthcare system. The power of one entity’s decision will create difficulty in attempts to leverage funding and studies that have highlighted these inequities. The hold of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will be felt for generations unless a reversal happens.
Every woman of child bearing age should know how this decision will impact them depending on where they live. You will need to know your options in your choices and in seeking a qualified medical provider. You can start with visiting your local health department site and know your state laws. Anyone residing in a restrictive state can examine other states and reputable organizations that specialize in women’s health if they are seeking services not offered by your state. However, do your due diligence to make sure that seeking services outside of your state does not have repercussions written into your current state’s laws. The important thing is to remember you are not alone. Women have a voice and it is time we all re-examine the best way to use our voices to ensure that every woman across society has the right to choose, and to be healthy.