When Tori Donahue of Pensacola, Florida, read the US Supreme Court’s draft ruling on abortion rights leaked last week, she was intrigued and horrified. The majority opinion, though not final, indicates the court’s intention to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which set women’s rights to abortion in the United States.
“I have family members who need abortions,” Donahue told VOA. “My mother, for example, was repeatedly molested and raped by her father as a child. He impregnated her and luckily she was able to terminate that pregnancy.”
Doctors have told Donahu that she too may need an abortion one day.
“They said the drugs I take could make it impossible for the fetus to develop normally,” she said, “and I’m afraid this upcoming Supreme Court ruling could put my life at risk.” If I need an emergency abortion and can’t get one.”
Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document, but warned that opinion could change.
Still, women in America and across the political spectrum are reacting enthusiastically.
“I don’t have a problem with people believing in abortion or religion or whatever,” explained Hannah Weisner of Savannah, Georgia, “but when a group of old friends try to own my uterus.” , so it drives me really crazy. And got scared. I have liver disease and if I was forced to terminate the pregnancy, there is a good chance it would kill me and the baby. What good would then come from your ‘right to child’?”
Weisner says she is pro-active, meaning she believes women have the right to terminate pregnancies free of government interference.
“But just because I’m pro-abortion doesn’t mean I’m pro-abortion,” she clarified. “I love having kids, but abortion is a serious, personal option provided to women with a variety of conditions. It can be painful, but it’s also sometimes the best solution.”
While opinion polls Roe v. Wade, a substantial and equally vocal minority who identify as pro-life believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.
“I remember being heartbroken after Rowe v. Wade defended abortion, and now I’m so glad they’re ready to reverse it,” said Garland, Texas resident Judy Thompson. “To me, pro-choice women are too lazy to use protection during sex. It’s just bullshit to me.”
A survey conducted in March by the Pew Research Center found that while 21% of women believe abortion should be legal in all cases and 9% believe it should never be legal, the majority of respondents Do not look at this issue in absolute terms.
“Most Americans believe there are instances where abortion should be allowed,” Michelle Ehrenburg, executive director of the women’s health advocacy organization Lyft Louisiana, told VOA. “The reason why you are seeing such intense passion right now is because change is happening so quickly and without a thought.”
Much of today’s abortion debate stems from the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in which seven out of nine judges held that pregnant women have the right to abortion in the US Constitution. The court balanced that right with the need to protect prenatal life and decided to allow abortions as long as the fetus could survive outside the womb. Nearly 20 years later, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court updated the decision to define that point of viability at approximately 23 weeks of pregnancy.
The High Court’s conservative majority grew during the previous administration, when the Senate confirmed all three candidates for then-President Donald Trump. Fearing a more ideologically opposed Supreme Court to abortion, Republican-led state legislatures across the country challenged – and reversed – Roe v. Wade’s hopes have passed restrictive abortion laws.
His wish came true when a Mississippi law banning abortion 15 weeks after conception made its way to the Supreme Court for consideration last year. However, many conservatives felt that the 15-week ban did not go far enough.
“Abortion should be banned from the moment of fertilization because there is no logical beginning of life other than conception,” said Hannah Bowden of Memphis, Tennessee. “This is the moment when human evolution begins. This is the moment our unique DNA is made. This is the moment when every breathing person becomes who they are.”
Still, those who are pro-election expected the Supreme Court to uphold the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, or at least not completely reverse it.
“It seemed like there was a scenario in which the Supreme Court could rule in Mississippi’s favor and make 15 weeks the new point of viability,” Ehrenburg said. “But – and of course this could change – the leaked draft looked like the court would go further than that.”
patchwork of abortion laws
Experts believe that if Roe v. Wade is reversed, nearly half of US states would ban or severely limit abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Already, 13 states have so-called “trigger laws” that would automatically and immediately ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturned a 1973 ruling.
Even the most extreme state laws make exceptions when continuing the pregnancy would endanger the mother’s life. But pro-election activists worry that the restrictions will result in cases where women’s lives are at risk.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Democratic-led states to pass laws that would strengthen abortion rights within their borders.
Some women say the resulting patchwork of laws has caused them to consider state abortion policies when deciding where to live.
“If Roe v. Wade is reversed it would make abortion illegal in Louisiana,” explained New Orleans resident Danielle Lee. “I have a genetic condition that can be passed on to my baby but it is not detected until 16 weeks into the pregnancy.”
Lee said the disease can be painful and fatal for the baby.
“I’m not bringing a child into this world to live a short, painful life,” she said. “If my husband and I decide to have a third child, we’ll have to go somewhere where it’s legal.”
lightning rod of an issue
In Louisiana alone, 27 bills have been introduced in this legislative session that would regulate abortion or some aspect of reproductive rights. It includes bills that could charge a woman with murder if she illegally terminated a pregnancy.
Laws preventing women from traveling to individual states for abortion are also being explored.
“Of course, wealthy women will always have the resources to travel to another state or country for an abortion,” explained Melissa Floronoy, a former state representative for Louisiana. “Working women and poor women will be left with no choice and will be driven to either self-terminate and face legal consequences, or to have children they cannot afford to raise. Safe and The trauma of ending access to legal abortion will ripple through communities and families.”
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its final verdict within two months. Until then, and perhaps not long after, Americans will engage in one of the country’s most polarizing debates—one in which both sides believe they are morally right.
“It all boils down to whether you believe that life in the womb is a human life,” explained Bowden, a Memphis resident. “If it’s not, you can do whatever you want with it – similar to a wisdom tooth. But if it’s a human life, you have to protect it. I believe it’s human life because I can’t see what else it could be.”
The Shadow of New Orleans views the debate differently. She asked the VOA to only use her maiden name because she fears the new laws may try to punish women for having had abortions in the past. She had a miscarriage about 20 years ago because she could not afford to raise the child after her husband left.
For Chhaya, the debate is not about fetal status, but whether a woman has autonomy over her body.
“No one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body,” she said. “You may find decisions made in the past morally unfavourable, but your power stops there. I think the decision to not vaccinate is morally counterproductive, but I would recommend you to get more COVID-19 vaccines than this. Shouldn’t be able to. You should be able to give birth to me.”