Outgoing Opinions & Senior Copy Editor
Two weeks ago, the debate on abortion resurfaced in the Supreme Court after 14 years of silence on reproductive rights. Margaret Atwood’s prophetic novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is reminiscent of the new case from Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenges the current legislation on abortion to ban the process for pregnancies past 15 weeks, which is two months earlier than the Roe v. Wade decision previously allowed for.
Atwood’s dystopian narrative foreshadowed a dominant patriarchal society that hegemonized reproduction and used women as commodities of childrearing and property — sound familiar? Although this case hearing will not have a decision until the spring or summer of 2022, the issue itself sparks controversy between pro-life and pro-choice as a monumental setback to the long-standing feminist movement — “The Handmaid’s Tale” is now a looming forecast for America.
This May, Texas governor, George Abbott, signed one of the nation’s most restrictive bill on six-week abortions, which criminalizes those who receive or aid the abortion process; they could be fined a minimum of $10,000. Any pregnancy in which a heartbeat is detected is not eligible for an abortion, let alone abortion care. Of course, this puts healthcare facilities and clinics in danger or renders them complacent to a new selective care regimen now that people who seek abortions are a liability to a potential 20-week ban, private insurance ban, law-suit, or fiscal fines.
As other states follow Governor Abbott’s lead in enforcing these so-called “heartbeat” bills, those implicated in eight different states are now forced to adhere to the six-week restriction, to which professionals note that most people with uteruses don’t actually know they’re pregnant until after six weeks. This does not excuse the rest of America, as other states prefer to enact abortion criminalization after eight or twelve weeks rather than Governor Abbott’s proposed six.
With the majority of America advocating for unborn babies, people with uteruses are completely denied healthcare, reproductive choice, and safety. By denying a structured, safe abortion procedure, research shows that abortions do not decrease, but rather encourage and increase unsafe abortion practices. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2010 to 2014 about 45 percent of abortions globally were unsafe, with recent statistics of about 73.3 million total abortions each year within the last six years.
The WHO reports that women risk these unsafe practices due to many anti-abortion barriers and a general letdown of national healthcare. Most of these obstacles come from recent policy reform, such as Louisiana’s June Medical Services v. Russo which requires those receiving abortions to be cared for within 30 miles of a doctor with “admitting privileges” in order to receive proper reproductive care. Other unnecessary requirements include mandatory waiting periods, prescribed counseling, third-party association, or unnecessary medical testing to delay care. In addition, there are also the high costs of healthcare, objections from the healthcare provider, and restrictive federal policy.
This undeniable stalling and mandated rigmarole of preventing abortion is now on the table, with the new Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization scheduled for a Supreme Court hearing later this year.
For conservative lawmakers and religious pro-lifers, this is incredibly on schedule. Seeing as three of former President Trump’s appointees are on the Supreme Court, the fate of reproductive autonomy for people with uteruses has been determined, and America is headed straight for a full rendition of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
In regards to our new authoritarian future, what will become of people with uteruses? Forced to birth unwanted pregnancies, the criminalization of abortion, the constant threat of sexual harassment, and a 98 percent rape statistic — Margaret Atwood was right. People with uteruses are no longer autonomous citizens, free to our own choices of childbirth, healthcare, and privacy. Instead, we are reproductive tools subject to the church’s will and the patriarchy.