The 46th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade and What Has Changed
Norma Nelson, a high-school dropout in Texas, had suffered abuse and ran away from home. At the age of sixteen, she married Elwood McCorvey and became pregnant. Her mother raised the baby and McCorvey became pregnant with a second child, which was raised by the father. Then came her third pregnancy, from what she claimed—and later was found to be a lie—was a result of rape. She wanted an abortion, which was highly frowned upon where she came from, but she didn’t have the means or funds to have one.
As a result, she decided to file a class action lawsuit on her own behalf, under the name Jane Roe, as well as for “all women similarly situated,” according to Thought Co. The lawsuit lasted for over a decade. In January of 1973, the Supreme Court established that in the case of Roe v. Wade, the constitutional right to privacy included a woman’s choice of personal medical decisions, including abortion without the interference of any politicians—a simple right all women should have.
“More and more, I’m the issue,” McCorvey said to The New York Times. “I don’t know if I should be the issue. Abortion is the issue. I never even had an abortion.”
McCorvey, herself, is indicative of a bigger problem. It’s not about whether she had an abortion or not, but rather about if she had wanted an abortion, she couldn’t have gotten one. At the time, she, like many other women didn’t have access to a basic human right: the control of their own body.
Now forty-six years after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, women across the nation still have barriers in trying to make decisions for themselves. Obstacle laws, called Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, are disguised usually as in favor of women’s health but in reality are medically unnecessary and have no remedial reason to exist.
Building requirements for clinics that cater to women’s health are “often [put under] burdensome standards,” according to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) website. Obligations include width of hallways; complex heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; exact operating room dimensions; and even provisions for janitors closets.
TRAP laws single out “abortion clinicians and [mandate] that they have transfer agreements or admitting privileges with local hospitals,” as told by the PPAF website. The trouble with admitting privileges is that local hospitals can decide to be anti-abortion and not allow access to treatment. The hospitals’ religious and political affiliations should not interfere with medical care. This does not follow the first amendment of the Constitution, which pertains to the separation of church and state in government.
Location requirements imposed upon these clinics force the abortion providers to be close to a hospital, typically within thirty miles or fifteen minutes, depending on the area. This can make it nearly impossible for people who live in rural areas to access the medical attention they need.
The outcome: fewer providers.
These TRAP laws are all negating the Roe v. Wade ruling. Politicians do not have all of the necessary medical insight to make these decisions. These laws, instead, are mostly politically motivated when they shouldn’t be. Abortion is one of the safest medical operations, but the laws don’t seem to reflect this.
In addition to the limited number of available clinics, there are the problems of times, money, and availability.There are even issues with emergency contraception access such as Plan B, which is meant to prevent a pregnancy or potential abortion, this should sound good to pro-lifers. Some emergency contraceptives can cost up to $70 at pharmacies, making it inaccessible to many women (especially adolescents) across the country. On top of this, many pharmacists believe emergency contraception causes birth defects or even abortions. This lack of awareness is both concerning and harmful to those in need.
Politically, many presidents have supported women’s abortion rights. President Bill Clinton signed the Abortion-Clinic Protection Bill in 1994. Barack Obama ended a ban on the use of US foreign aid funds by international family planning programs which provided abortions or advice.
More recently, the idea of a woman’s freedom to her body has been called into question. There is the potential of newly-elected Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruling in favor of anti-abortion supporters over discriminatory-based abortion laws. Public opinion has always been split on terms regarding the Roe v. Wade decision, but it’s about time for women to have full control of their bodies, forty-six years in the making.