In as little as a year, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case that could have devastating consequences for American women.
South Dakota passed a law in March that outlaws nearly all abortions. The provisions of the bill stand in direct opposition to Roe vs. Wade, and the Christian right is hoping to use it as a catalyst for overturning the 1973 ruling. This couldn’t have come about at a worse time, with the Republican Party controlling both the White House and Congress. Add to that the Bush administration’s appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
As we watch more and more of our freedoms disappear in this country, it is discouraging to see legislation put forth that specifically targets womens’ rights. If pro-life organizations get their way, thousands of women will suffer just as they did before Roe vs. Wade protected their inalienable right to have control over their own bodies.
Anti-abortion legislation is a threat to all women, but it hurts poor women the most. South Dakota has only one facility that provides the service, Planned Parenthood, and with the passage of this law women will have to travel out of the state for an abortion. For the thousands of women who are living below the poverty line, this simply isn’t an option. These women will be forced to rely on the type of unsafe “underground abortion market” that claimed many lives before the procedure was legalized.
This is only one example of the negative effects of this backward and narrowminded law. In no part of the bill is there any provision for cases involving rape or incest, and even in the clause that makes an exception in cases in which the mother’s life is at stake, the law encourages doctors to “make reasonable medical efforts” to save both the mother and the child. If the law takes effect, thousands of unwanted pregnancies are going to become thousands of problems for adoption agencies and orphanages. Not to mention the cost to abused women who will be inextricably bound to their abusers by being forced to have a child.
While all of these are good reasons to strike down the proposed anti-abortion law, I don’t think any woman should have to give the government a reason for choosing to have an abortion. The government has no place here; it is a decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor. The Supreme Court has already made it so. Though it is rare, there is a precedent for the reversal of a Supreme Court decision – Brown vs. Board of Education overturned the 1896 ruling that allowed segregation in schools under the “separate but equal” clause – and with recent political developments, there is a small chance that it will happen. As much as I would love to see the GOP commit political suicide by championing legislation that directly disenfranchises more than half of the electorate, it just isn’t worth the cost.
Polaris Garfield is a fourth-year English major and political science minor.