On May 2, 2022, journalism company Politico obtained and released a draft of the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case pertains to the constitutional right to an abortion as well as the right of states to pass litigation regarding the form of health care, relating to the landmark 1973 case, Roe v. Wade. With this decision, the Supreme Court cemented a person’s constitutional liberty to have an abortion without governmental influence or prevention. However, this released draft threatens the very fabric of this right. While such a draft does not guarantee the reversal of Roe v. Wade, it suggests that the decision to reverse will be made in the future with the current Supreme Court. Therefore, the legality of abortion will ultimately be decided by the states, 26 of which are likely or certain to enact a ban when able to.
In pondering the future of a person’s right to choose, one must also examine their own circumstances. Many of us possess a steady support system, the financial and physical ability to travel if needed, and the economic security to afford the procedure. However, many of us do not. Even in a nation where the right to choose is protected, countless individuals find themselves without the necessary resources to access an abortion. This begs the question: should Roe be overturned, whose rights will truly be stripped? While every person deserves readily available access to an abortion, those who are financially and physically able may travel to a state with litigation protecting the form of healthcare.
While every person should be entitled to an abortion without fearing economic downfall, those who are financially able will be able to afford the procedure. Therefore, it is poor and other communities that frequently lack access to healthcare that will be most affected. Previously instated barriers to healthcare will remain and, with the passage of state wide abortions bans, disproportionately affected people, including people of color, those residing in rural areas, low-income Americans, and disabled individuals, will continue to be oppressed by the healthcare system.
The debates regarding the federally protected right to an abortion should not center around religion or personal belief of morality. The issue of abortion is a healthcare issue and, with the reversal of Roe, systemic disparities in healthcare will only further stain the fabric of the nation. The lack of access to abortion care will not prevent all abortions, but rather safe abortions. These possible bans might not impact every American, but they will impact numerous poor communities nationally. Every individual may not find themselves in need of an abortion, but the notion that bodily autonomy is not guaranteed in a developed nation will change our democracy. This forces us to ask why the Democratic party, seemingly perpetually pledging to protect the right to choose, has yet to take conclusive action to do so in a time of need. Recently, the Senate blocked legislation that would codify Roe into law and protect abortions despite the proposed reversal of the Supreme Court decision. The inaction of the Democratic party, despite control over the White House and both chambers of Congress, evidences a clear failure of constituents in exchange for votes.
With midterm elections approaching in the fall of 2022, many candidates will exploit the fear of Americans to gain support and, to do so, they must ensure that the future of abortion rights remains unclear. We must not allow our fundamental freedoms to become political caravans of support for power hungry politicians. Much like in all times of uncertainty, we must advocate. We must organize. We must vote. This fall, vote like your autonomy depends on it. Vote with compassion, with vigor, and with knowledge. Vote to urge your representatives to take local, statewide, and federal action to protect abortion rights. This November, just vote.