FOCUS: SCHS reflects on the ramifications of Roe v. Wade’s overturning and how the lack of abortion access in certain states has fundamentally changed American politics

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning decades of court precedent given by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey granting abortion rights prior. In the case, the court argued that abortion was not a right outlined in the U.S. Constitution, nor was it considered a right that was deeply rooted in the nation’s history. SCOTUS returned the case back to the states, allowing them to determine and regulate abortion within their own borders.

As a result, abortion was thrust back into the spotlight once more, drawing ire from both the Democratic and Republican parties. It effectively continued a game of political football, ranging from vows by then-Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to ban abortions federally to Texas imposing the Texas Heartbeat Act, banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Abortion clinics or doctors found to have violated the act could be privately sued by any individual, which could lead to cash settlements. The bill generated a lingering threat over abortion-related health clinics, causing some to close their branches out of fear. This law generated much anger from Democratic-controlled states, with California voting to legalize Assembly Bill 1594 to spite the political right. Bill 1594 copies the same enforcement system Texas uses. However, it is directed against gun manufacturers.

Sophomore Vedanth Viajay believes that Dobbs contributed to more problems within America’s political landscape.

“I think it really exacerbated the left-right divide that America’s really kind of going through right now,” Viajay said. “It’s (abortion) obviously been a very controversial topic, right? Like, it’s kind of one of the big drawing lines between, are you on the political left in America or are you on the political right?”

Since former President Trump’s large influence taking hold of the Republican Party, the left and right have been more divided compared to past years, such as during the Obama or Bush administrations. Dobbs v. Jackson caused an uproar of political fallout on both ends, expanding the political gap and causing new audiences to take a stance on the issue.

With SCOTUS’ ruling making abortion a states’ rights matter, abortion laws have become dependent on the region. Kansas, for example, voted to reject a bill that would criminalize abortion, while Louisiana engaged its “trigger law” on banning abortion after Roe was overturned.

“I agree with the power going to the state,” Viajay said. “The state can now have that decision for itself. I feel like if it’s on that more local scale, it’s a bit easier to moderate, a bit easier to manage in the legislative sense and to supervise how this is going to work.”

Aside from congressional politics, the Dobbs v. Jackson case divided constituents into three groups – the anti-abortion, for abortion rights and the undetermined – consisting of many who are stuck attempting to navigate the arguments and the shuffling of facts and misinformation. Sophomore Ruby Goodwin, among many others, has had difficulty trying to understand the topic and form their own opinions.

“I think it’s a hard topic for me,” Goodwin said. “I’ve never needed an abortion. It’s never something I’ve had to consider and it’s never something I’ve had to experience, and so I’m hesitant to give opinions on it, knowing that I don’t fully understand it.”

On the one hand, the anti-abortion movement has argued for decades that every man, woman and child has the right to life, regardless of the circumstances provided. Those who are against abortion believe it is immoral, arguing that the mother is wrongfully denying life to their child. The more conservative and religious side of America is often aligned with this movement, being responsible for the generation of anti-abortion legislation. The original law spurring the Dobbs v. Jackson case was based on a model made by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group.

Senior Zachary Mechlin believes the case is definitive of Republican views.

“It’s very old-fashioned Republican, which is like nowadays,” Mechlin said. “When people think of the conservative and Republican party, they think very anti-abortion, and they are nowadays. They have a big demographic that is religious, so it’s just not something they believe in or something they even want to touch on.”

On the other hand, the abortion rights movement argues for the concept of bodily freedom and the right to choose and has campaigned for abortion to become a constitutional right in the United States. Oftentimes, the movement claims that abortion is necessary and that banning it would endanger a woman, noting circumstances such as sexual assaults.

They also argue that regardless of abortion’s legality, people will still find a way to commit the action, which could result in deadly consequences. Since Roe’s appeal, many women have crossed state lines to get an abortion and to find doctors willing to perform abortions illegally under state law, putting themselves at risk of imprisonment.

SCHS Wellness Center Clinical Associate Laura Macey believes that illegalizing abortion negatively impacts women, minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

“I think it’s extremely classist and sexist that somebody would appeal that (Roe),” Macey said. “It’s a way to control women’s bodies. And I understand, you know, there’s a small human, possibly involved, but also do you really want this child to come into the world in a family that they’re not wanted, that can’t take care of them, that, you know, and then end up in jail?”

There is a general consensus among many that the government is not doing enough to subside the growing demands from the public to take action. Several solutions have been proposed to subside these demands, such as more public awareness and knowledge about sex education, safe sex procedures and contraceptives.

“I don’t think we do a great job in this country with sex education. We don’t do a great job of giving kids access to birth control,” Macey said. “I think there are a lot of babies that are born that maybe people would’ve waited for if they had more information and more access… but also, I don’t think we educate our young men well enough, and I don’t think we educate our young women well enough how to take care of each other.”

If there is a way to calm the political argument, Goodwin believes there must be reforms made to the system, addressing poor sex education to the lack of resources.

“I do believe that in general, it (abortion) should be legal until we can fix many of the issues that cause people to want abortions in the first place,” Goodwin said. “As long as those things are happening and are possible, then it’s not fair to force women to carry babies to term.”