Before we continue our exploration of the freedom of choice currently under threat from the Supreme Court, the Finger Lakes Justice Partnership must acknowledge the heartbreaking incidents of gun violence that have erupted over the past two weeks, including the racially charged massacre in Buffalo on May 14 and the horrific attack on an elementary school in Texas, details of which are emerging as we write. Whatever your personal convictions, we hope that you will join us not only in condemning this violence, but also in working resolutely to end it. We will offer anyone of good will the opportunity to engage in this field in the near future.
The leaked draft Supreme Court decision says the justices are considering overturning Roe v. Wade. Who will this affect? At least 13 states have trigger laws in place that will go into effect upon Roe’s overturn, banning abortion as early as six weeks — before many women know they’re pregnant. Women who manage to circumvent these new restrictions could face penalties, including fines of $100,000 and ten years in prison.
Estimates of the number of additional births that will result from these laws are around 75,000 per year. What will become of these children? Of the ten U.S. states with the highest child poverty rates, nine have trigger laws in place and no additional plans to increase poverty relief. Population growth will further strain underfunded public aid budgets, leaving children even further behind in basic needs and leading to increased illness and death.
Opponents of abortion generally push to make it illegal, as if that were the only way to reduce the rate at which this medical procedure is performed. However, advocates for lower abortion rates could work to prevent unwanted pregnancies, for example by advocating for comprehensive sex education in schools and making birth control affordable and accessible to all. There are also ways to make carrying a child to term a better choice for at least some people: free maternal medical care, free childcare, and paid family leave, to name a few. Why do many of these opponents not support such measures? That’s a question best left to them to try to answer.
In our last column, we mentioned that in the unique case of abortion, the government seeks to intervene between individuals, their doctors and the care they need. However, it may no longer be unique, as IUDs and other forms of birth control may soon be banned in some states. Indeed, the erosion of these rights has inevitable implications for Americans’ right to privacy in general. Judge Samuel Alito, the author of the draft decision, claimed its scope was narrow – but given that all of the recently appointed Tory judges gave evidence at their hearings to confirm Roe’s immunity but are now seeking to decimate it, it is difficult to extend trust them further. The rights to interracial marriage and same-sex marriage are seen by many as hanging by a thread at this point — all in an effort to impose a narrow set of values on every American.
Finger Lakes Justice Partnership plans to submit a final column on the right to choose in the coming weeks. In the meantime, stay safe and take care of each other.
Angela Proietti-Nelson, Alex Andrasik
Finger Lakes Justice Partnership