CW: This article discusses topics of rape, sexual assault, and abortion, which could be distressing to some readers.
It has been just under three months since the American Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Efforts to reverse the decision, protests against the ruling, and social media activism have since faded due to new political foci. Still, the fact remains that this rescinding of abortion is shockingly inhumane. In addition, forced pregnancy is a crime against humanity and a violation of any human rights.
The regulations on abortion across the world are strikingly inconsistent. Abortion only became legal, under certain conditions, in Great Britain in 1968 after the Abortion Act 1967 came into operation. This was later amended to introduce new grounds of reasoning by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. So whilst it may seem that Americans are reverting to a dark past, it was not so long ago for us.
What’s happening in America?
Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision made by the Supreme Court in 1973. The ruling allowed the protection of women’s rights by supporting the choice to have an abortion. This meant that a women’s right to terminate her pregnancy was protected by the US constitution. Prior to this, abortion was illegal in 30 states, with the remaining 20 states only allowing the procedure under certain circumstances.
Since the nation’s most senior legal body overturned this right, 26 states have, or will in due course, introduce new abortion restrictions or legal ramifications.
Criminalising abortion will not stop it
Certain states now have laws in place that legally forbid women from specific healthcare practices. In states that have already banned abortions, there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. States who have prohibited abortions see a restriction on the timeline of when the abortion can be performed. The remaining states are either uncertain about how they will action this ruling, or their state law protects abortion under the Constitution.
For reference, the legality of abortions now currently stands as a Class A felony which could land you up to 99 years in prison. An attempted abortion is regarded as a Class C felony wherein 1-10 years is the penalty.
Allowing access to safe healthcare seems like a chore for the government in America. But owning a gun is a right. Like abortion, gun laws are mandated by state-level government. However, across the wider United States, carrying a firearm is legal. In 43 of the 50 states, Open Carry is legal, aka walking around with a potential, easily accessible murder weapon. So, where do they draw the line? They argue that abortion is in support of pro-life, but when 86% of the population can legally stroll the streets in possession of a gun, how pro-life are you really?
Abortion is the foetus-carriers individual decision
Bringing life into the world requires an insane amount of adjustments and risks. The ability to do so is a unique experience that only half of the population ever has the possibility to do. However, the act of being pregnant puts your medical health at risk, as well as your physical and mental. It alters your current path, whether that be education or career. It means being responsible for another human being. So why is it not a women’s decision whether she has to go through with it? There are many reasons why someone could choose not to have a child, and those reasons are no one else’s business. Likewise, the decision is that of the individuals and not to be dictated by anyone else.
The social injustice also lies within androcentrism. Not only were four out of the five Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade male (not to mention that two of them are known sex offenders), but many abortions are influenced, if not forced, by the male involved. In a tweet posted by Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, she states: “there’s a WHOLE lot of men whose lives, careers, and families have benefited from an abortion (including several “pro-life” GOP Congressmen). Men, we need you right now. You can get through in rooms others can’t. Your power matters. Speak up. This is about us all.”
Social justice requires fairness in society - without it, we cannot reach an equal community with fundamental human rights. The unforgiving changes currently coming into action are everything but just. Governments, politicians, and intergovernmental organisations should be making constructive changes rather than introducing rules and laws that overtly oppose anything progressive.