Editorial: The threat of a post-Roe America

Taking your rights with you

On Monday, May 2, 2022, a Supreme Court draft written by Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. was leaked. Sparking outrage, the draft exposed that the precedent set by the 1973 case, Roe v. Wade (Roe) could potentially be overturned, making abortion rights a matter of state policy rather than secured under federal protections. 

Currently, as students in California, we have the privilege of not worrying about whether we have access to safe abortions. However, it is our job to ensure that women and individuals in other states have the right to choose. To guarantee that women’s rights are prioritized, we must contribute to organizations that support the pro-choice movement and elect officials who advocate for women’s bodily autonomy.

Overturning Roe poses a serious threat to the health and safety of those seeking an abortion, especially in conservative states. Many of these states have enacted “trigger laws,” legislation that effectively bans abortion. According to The World Health Organization, legal restrictions on abortion typically do not result in fewer abortions but force pregnant people to pursue riskier abortion services.

Lesha McPeak has been a nurse practitioner since 2010 and currently works at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. As a medical professional, McPeak recognizes the damaging outcomes overturning Roe could create for women. 

“[Abortion bans as a result of overturning Roe] would be a danger to human life in the sense that women would likely seek out alternative ways to end a pregnancy that are far less safe. … This will likely lead to death in many cases,” McPeak said. 

Not only will unsafe abortions and resulting deaths become more prominent in states where the procedure may be banned, but this legislation could pose accessibility issues in states where abortions are legal. 

“If [Roe] becomes a state by state accessibility problem … more people will come [to California] seeking abortion, and if we do not have enough providers to meet the abortion demand, people in California may try to seek alternative ways to end their pregnancy out of desperation,” McPeak said. 

​​If Roe is overturned, the majority of states banning abortion plan to prohibit the procedure even in cases of rape or incest. Due to these restrictions, many people are outraged at the conditions that could potentially force a sexual abuse victim to carry a child to term. 

Along with women who are victims of sexual violence, those in lower-income communities will be disproportionately impacted by abortion bans following Roe’s possible repeal.

“Unfortunately, the people that are affected are typically lower-income, [as they] have less accessibility to be able to travel or pay for abortion procedures. … This is devastating to a community of people who are already underprivileged,” McPeak said. 

Additionally, decreased access to abortions puts marginalized groups at an even greater disadvantage than at present. According to a 2019 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, white women had the lowest rate of abortions while Black women had the highest rate, This is a direct result of an absence of quality healthcare and access to contraceptives for Black women. 

Oftentimes, pro-life arguments suggest that abortion is immoral and unjust, as it is depriving an innocent embryo of a life. However, these arguments do not address the very real implication that pro-life for a baby may not also hold true for the mother. In fact, a July 2020 New York Post article details an experiment named the “Turnaway Study,” where researchers followed two groups of women who sought abortions. The results of the experiment found that “the women who were denied abortions were on average more likely to live below the poverty line than the women who managed to get them.” Along with this “the women who were denied abortions had worse mental health—higher anxiety and lower self-esteem.” Although the pro-life argument would suggest that by not getting an abortion, women are fulfilling a moral responsibility, their lives and mental health may be worse off. 

As high school students, our generation will be primarily affected by these laws. Therefore, in our lifetime, we may continue to see an increase in illegal and unsafe abortions and pregnancy-related deaths.

While seniors look forward to their final months of high school, many prepare for their next chapter, and some even plan to move to new states where abortion could be banned in the future. According to a senior post-graduation survey, 15 percent of Redwood seniors are planning to move to states that will certainly or likely ban abortion if Roe is overturned. As we are the generation that will witness the long-term, harmful effects of this potential Supreme Court decision, it is our responsibility to take immediate action. A precedent must be set that women are entitled to make reproductive decisions regardless of where they live.  

So, as many seniors prepare to move out of state, it is imperative that they are conscious of the impact their voice can have in other states. By utilizing their vote in the state of their college, they can potentially save women from losing their right to choose. This amount of influence will bring us closer to women having control over their own bodies. 

 See the link below to donate to some of the many organizations that provide resources to those in need of an abortion.