Roe v. Wade is Essential to Women’s Bodily Autonomy

Photo Courtesy of CrossCut

Janice Luong

Opinions Editor

On May 2, Politico published a leaked draft written by Justice Samuel Alito to strike down Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Booming news outlets and protests across the country quickly followed, and rightfully so. 

Roe v. Wade was a monumental and pivotal court decision that gave women bodily integrity. It gave women constitutional protection for the right to abortion without excessive government restrictions. Striking down the decision set in Roe v. Wade would take away women’s rights to safely access abortion care and set a precedent that’ll also target vulnerable communities down the road. As a woman, this leaked draft was a rude and frustrating awakening that made me angrier for the government system that we live in. 

I remember learning about Roe v. Wade in high school, and how the decision was a win for women in America. I never thought that, in my lifetime, I could potentially live in a pre-Roe period. I thought that America would continue to wake up and let individual choice and freedom guide our democracy. 

Today, we often hear, “it’s 2022, and we’re still here?” or “I can’t believe this is still happening in 2022.” The decision to strike down Roe v. Wade tells me that our government is not meeting the nation’s needs, and it has become a separate entity that has lost focus on representing the American people. 

There is nothing more frustrating than history repeating itself. What’s even more frustrating is that the abortion argument will never go anywhere. Those who are pro-forced pregnancy are simply appealing to a red herring fallacy. Instead of focusing on the pressing issues that society has, they want to focus on protecting unborn children. This sentence alone blows my mind because I cannot, for the life of me, understand how such a savior complex has the authority to take away women’s reproductive rights. 

How can you protect something or someone that isn’t there? I want to ask those who are anti-abortion: who are you really saving? Are you going to provide for every child you forced a woman to give birth to? Where is womanhood when you allow other women to suffer and potentially die from your beliefs? 

The issue of abortion has a deep history rooted in racism, with anti-abortion movements dating back to slavery. Anti-abortion efforts have historically had nothing to do with saving lives or protecting the welfare of a person. During the slave period, anti-abortion was about the exploitation of Black women and using women’s bodies in service to men. It was about consolidating power and wealth through women, and I can’t help but notice similar rhetoric used by Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Samuel Alito who talked about the “domestic supply of infants” in the adoption system.  

First of all, I am appalled by this statement. Humans are not “supply.” Humans should not be forced to give birth for the sake of a “market.” This statement is made under the guise that people are constantly adopting and people who want to adopt cannot because of an adoptee shortage when there is, in fact, nearly 428,000 children in foster care on any given day in the United States (U.S.). The goal was always to be close to zero — we do not want any children in foster care. So, women should not have to be liable for keeping a “steady supply” of infants. 

Another striking statement by Justice Alito is that the Constitution leaves the question of abortion “to be decided by the people of each state.” Alito has always believed, even since the Reagan era, that the Constitution did not support Roe v. Wade. This statement, to delegate these issues back to the states, is at the very core of conservatives’ anti-abortion movement. In other words, such delegation would lead to the abolishment of abortion. However, where Alito went incredibly wrong is that what women decide to do with their bodies should not be up to the states. Each and every individual woman should decide what to do with themselves, and upholding Roe v. Wade does that for women across the country. 

It is striking and frustrating to me that we are debating and arguing over something as non-negotiable as the fact that that people should have a choice in reproductive rights. Upholding Roe v. Wade does not infringe on people who are anti-abortion. If you are anti-abortion, keep it to yourself but don’t inflict it on anybody else. The pro-choice movement does not attack anti-abortionist sentiment, but anti-abortionists harass those who are pro-choice only because they cannot stand the very existence of women disagreeing with them. 

I conclude by asking everyone, especially men, to stand up for women during this turbulent and dark time. Do not stay silent — silence is violence. This is our chance to uphold equal rights and unite against this atrocity. Conservative extremists have an agenda, and it doesn’t stop at abortion. Remember why it was leaked. Don’t be distracted. Remember the Jan. 6 insurrection. Remember who wants to take away women’s rights.