The War Against Reproductive Rights

By: Amanda White

After the decision of Roe v. Wade, there has been a pattern of almost identical legislation put into place in states across the nation to restrict abortion, making access to abortion increasingly scarce. For over a century, women, and those with the ability to get pregnant, have been fighting for their reproductive rights in the U.S., through movements such as The Women’s March.

In 1976, after the decision of Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment was legislated, blocking governmental funding for abortion under Medicaid, unless it was to save the life of the person with-child. In a 1980 Supreme Court case, Harris v. McRae, which challenged that amendment, the amendment was upheld. The case affected those who could not afford an abortion without Medicaid, forcing them to give birth or more commonly, perform an abortion on themselves, which causes severe medical complications, including death. According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 22,000 people die per year due to unsafe abortions. 

In 1979, a Massachusetts bill that required parental consent for minors seeking an abortion was challenged by plaintiff, William Baird. The court deemed the law to be unconstitutional, and stories of minors dying from at-home abortions due to the law began to surface. Consent also played a large role in the abortion control laws of 1988 and 1989, in which there were a number of regulations. One of those regulations meant getting informed consent from the father of the child before the person seeking an abortion was allowed to have the procedure. All of the regulations under the abortion control laws were deemed unconstitutional, except the bill in which one had to receive consent from the father of the child. That put many in danger, depending on how that person fell pregnant, whether it was rape, incest or an abusive relationship. 

After the death of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020, the United States has faced a great challenge in keeping the decision of Roe v. Wade afloat. Only about eight months after her death, Texas passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, banning abortion until the sixth week of pregnancy, essentially ending Roe v. Wade protections in the state of Texas. Based on the history of such laws’ that the U.S. has witnessed, Texas will soon face many deaths due to unsafe abortions, as well as uproar from citizens across the state. 

Likewise, there is a cry louder than ever to include transgender and nonbinary people in the conversation. Transgender, female-to-male, FTM, people who have not had sex reassignment surgery are still able to get pregnant. According to UCLA’s Williams Institute School of Law, transgender people “are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization,” making the rate of unwanted pregnancy for transgender people also considerably higher. Those who are transgender or nonbinary may experience gender dysphoria, which is “a distressed state arising from conflict between a person’s gender identity and the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth,” according to Merriam Webster. Gender dysphoria often causes severe depression and/or anxiety. Becoming pregnant as a transgender or nonbinary person would likely worsen their gender dysphoria, whether the pregnancy occured from consensual or nonconsensual sex. Yet, due to the pressure being put on the decision of Roe v. Wade, the risk of abortion care for transgender and nonbinary people is just as insufficient, if not more. 

The cases and bills listed above are unfortunately just a sliver of reality that people face when it comes to abortion care. As one state has a law deemed illegitimate as per Roe v. Wade, another law is being embedded into a different state with interchangeable statutes. Individual states, almost yearly, put laws into place that are nearly identical to laws that have already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. When those who may need to seek abortion options, cannot access care according to their situation, this creates an unfair imbalance of the sexes. People living in the U.S. are not asking for dominance of one of the sexes, simply equality and accessibility to abortion.

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