Roe v. Wade: What Does This Mean For the U.S.?


Olivia Woo, Contributor

⚠️TW: This article includes topics such as rape, sexual assault, and abortions that some may not be comfortable with. Viewer discretion is advised.

Reproductive rights, and the question of what is justified and what is not, have been a controversial topic for years. A recent Supreme Court ruling has divided society, and people are fighting for or against a law that may be overturned. This crucial decision will greatly impact the U.S. in either negative or positive ways. One thing is for sure: this decision has the potential to forever change lives. 

What Is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade was a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions. This law has been protested and supported, but it has remained in effect since 1973. 

However, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court has recently voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Alito wrote that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” in a bold, unflinching draft opinion fully refuting the law. While this draft has not been finalized, a final decision is expected to be announced in June. 

Four of the other Republican-appointed justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — voted with Alito in the conference held among the justices. The three Democratic-appointed justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — are working on one or more objections. How Chief Justice John Roberts will vote, and whether he will join an already written opinion or draft his own, is still not disclosed. While the bill does include some exceptions for a medical emergency, pregnancies that result from instances such as rape or sexual assault are not included, even in cases involving children. 

This draft opinion, which was leaked to the public, has caused turmoil across the country and people anxiously wait for the finalized decision. And as people are waiting, they are doing something else. Protests have exploded across the U.S. as thousands of citizens loudly and angrily voice their opinions. 

Pro-choice protesters in Foley Square following the leak of the draft opinion
(Legoktm, Wikimedia Commons)

How does this affect people against abortion?

The people against Roe v. Wade are rejoicing at the news.

“[Roe v. Wade’s] reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito said. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” 

For the one-third of Americans who wish to overturn the law, they see the situation as “a protection for the unborn” and call it a victory for the anti-abortion rights movement. A majority of them want to see a national ban on abortions. Those who want abortions illegal in their states also think those providing any illegal abortions and the women who have them should face criminal punishment. 

The main arguments for the anti-abortion side are protection of the unborn, as many have called abortion “murder” for “taking the lives” of unborn babies.

“I understand that abortion is needed in some instances,” an anonymous student said. “However, I believed that it should be a last resort rather than a default. More often times than not, the cause of an unplanned pregnancy could be because of irresponsibility or carelessness. If this is the reason, its basically killing lives just because of thoughtless actions. That doesn’t seem morally right. But of course, there are many other instances that would make people turn to the last resort. But in my opinion, abortions should be for exceptions.”

A pro-life march in Washington shows that some people see abortion as “murder”
(Wikimedia Commons)

How does this affect people who are for abortion, particularly women?

Overturning Roe v. Wade will prove to have negative consequences. 

Women around the world are protesting. Nearly two-thirds of Americans want to keep Roe v. Wade in place. They feel angry and discouraged about the possibility that it may be overturned, describing the situation as “a danger to women” and as a threat to rights more generally. Most Americans, especially younger women, think it would also lead to restrictions on birth control and family planning choices. Most want to see a federal law passed that protects abortion, and two-thirds want it to be legal, at least in most cases.

Overturning Roe v. Wade will make millions of women feel helpless. By making this huge change, women around the world will feel as if their rights are stripped away.

Women’s rights have progressed at an excruciatingly slow pace. By making this change, many feel that society will be leaping backwards.

Thousands of protesters have stated that Roe v. Wade is their protector. By getting rid of it, the U.S. will be encouraging another way to control women and their bodies. No one has the right to dictate what a woman can do with her body. That is their choice only, and they should be allowed to live their life without outside pressure or consequences.

“Abortion should be a fundamental right for all women, and should be accessible to them at all times. Banning abortions are only going to make things worse for women who cannot get a safe abortions, and these women might turn to much more dangerous methods instead. Also, it is a woman’s choice whether they want to have a child or not, so why ban [abortions] when the child is likely to grow up in a home where they can’t be cared for properly?”

If an unprepared mother is forced to take care of a child she is not ready for, they will both suffer. There are many exceptions that Roe v. Wade utterly fails to address. There are many pregnancies resulting from rape or sexual assault. There may also be mothers with financial problems or environments that are far from ideal. If a child is born to a family that is not in the right situation or mindset to raise a living, breathing human being, everyone involved in the raising of the child is doomed to live an unhappy life.

Another example of a negative outcome is suppression of LGBTQ+ rights. The dissents Alito states in his draft opinion don’t have to do with only abortion. They pose threats to other constitutional rights, including LGBTQ protections. Alito said that the overturn is necessary for “privacy reasons.” The same has been said about same-sex marriage bans, LGBTQ+ rights, marriage equality, and other civil rights. 

Thousands of people gather in protest against the possible overturn with signs and posters. Experts state that this court decision is an extremely important one, as it can make or break the Roe v. Wade law. Pro-choice activists have adopted the motto “Don’t tread on me” as outrage and protests explode across the U.S. (Susan Ruggles)

To sum it up…

The topic of constitutional rights must be tread lightly on. But the entirety of the nation has been stomping for years.

While the decision has not yet been made, people are left feeling hopeless as they anxiously await the final results. Protests are erupting. People are voicing their opinions loudly and eagerly. For some, Roe v. Wade is the axe that kills the unborn. But for others, overturning the law will suppress their choices and bodies fiercely. Overturning the law easily has the potential to ruin their lives, stripping women of their rights and abilities to make decisions for themselves. 

One thing is for sure: this decision easily has the potential to change lives forever.