A Gen Z Guide to Roe v. Wade, Abortion Laws and Why You Should Care
We’ve all been there. We want to educate ourselves on a pressing topic, but have NO idea where to start.😕 At Aavia, we’re passionate about all things hormones, sexual health, and reproductive health, which is why we think it’s important for our audience to understand what’s going on with abortion rights in America. ✨
Over the last few months, you may have heard about the Texas Heartbeat Act and more recently, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that was taken to the Supreme Court level. We’ve already written a blog on the Texas Heartbeat Act (read more here), so we’re going to focus on giving you a “big picture” understanding of what’s going on right now. In order to do that, we begin with the basics. ✅
What is Roe v. Wade and why does everyone keep referencing it?
In June1969, Norma McCorvey, or “Jane Roe”, became pregnant for the third time, but she did not want to keep the baby. At the time, in Texas, where she lived, abortion was illegal unless performed for life-saving reasons.
Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee were two lawyers who fought on her behalf by bringing a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the District Atteorney of Texas at the time, claiming that Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional.
By June 1970, the U.S. Federal Court ruled in Roe’s favour, stating that the Texas abortion law impeded on the right to privacy established by the constitution. Unfortunately for Roe, this ruling came too late, as she had already given birth and the child had been put up for adoption.
📍Washington D.C, 1973
Things didn’t end there. Later in the year, the ruling was appealed and taken to the Supreme Court level. After three years, in 1973, the Supreme Court reached a decision that gave people the right to abortions without “excessive” government restrictions. The framework they used was:
- 1st Trimester: Government cannot intervene in the right to abortion, as long as it is performed in a safe environment by a licensed practioner.
- 2nd Trimester: Since the chances of medical complications arising is higher in this period, the government can intervene in cases where the childbearer’s health is at risk.
- 3rd Trimester: The government can completely prohibit abortions in order to protect the baby’s life that is deemed viable**.
**Key Term Alert🚨
Viable: A viable life is one that physicians deem would be able to survive outside the womb with or without medical support.
Needless to say, this was a HUGE win for child-bearers in America. 🙌
In 1989, Governor Robert Casey of Pennsylvania passed a legislature called the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act. Some of the key components of this act:
- Person seeking abortion must wait 24 hours after consultation before getting the abortion.
- Parents of minors must give consent to the procedure.
- Spouses must also provide consent. Some situations were exceptions.
Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides sexual healthcare, filed a lawsuit against the Governor. While the district court found the act to be unconstitutional, the ruling was appealed at the Supreme Court.
There, the decision was upheld under the precedent of Roe v. Wade; however, some changes were made. Instead of following the “trimester” framework, one could have an abortion until the point of fetal viability. At the time, this was estimated to be around 28 weeks.
What happened after these landmark decisions were made?
Under Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, abortions have been made legal. However, certain states including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, have trigger laws that could automatically ban abortions in the first and second trimester if Roe v. Wade was to be overturned.
**Key Term Alert🚨
Trigger Law: Trigger laws are unenforceable laws that can gain enforceability if there is a key change in circumstances or precedents.
The current Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a crucial case in this fight to uphold Roe v. Wade. Multiple organizations and attorneys are challenging Mississippi laws that post unconstitutional barriers to access safe abortion. Some of the key barriers include:
- 6 Week Ban: Criminalize abortions once a heartbeat is detected.
- 15 Week Ban: Physicians are subject to civil penalties for performing abortions.
- Telemedicine Ban: Physicians cannot consult or treat patients seeking abortions through telemedicine.
- Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP): Placing unwarranted, excessive regulations on abortion clinics compared to other medical clinics.
What are the Implications of Roe v. Wade Being Overturned? 😠
Unfortunately, we will likely not hear a decision on this case until mid-2022. The Supreme Court only began hearing arguments last week. Here are the highlights of the arguments shared on behalf of the women’s health organization:
- By allowing the state to take control of a pregnant person’s body and DEMANDING that she continue a pregnancy to term is a deprivation of her liberties. 😡
- Prohibiting abortions before the medically determined fetal viability mark is a violation of the constitution. 😤
- Renouncing Roe v. Wade precedent of 50 years will allow individual states to hold the power to create their own laws and regulations on abortions. This would mean that access to abortion would be a mere “geographical lottery”. Doing this will also raise the likelihood of states wanting to regulate other fundamental rights, not just access to abortion, as well. 😳
One in four women in America will have an abortion before the age of 45 years old. Political views aside, 80% of Americans support abortion rights. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not put an end to abortions like some may think. Instead, it will force people to seek out unsafe, illegal abortions in their own state or travel far distances to seek out abortions in states where it is deemed legal.
Regardless of your political views, this would inherently burden the healthcare system and continue to exaggerate the inequities faced by women, especially those who are low-income or radicalized. Around half of abortion patients are radicalized women and majority of abortion patients are low-income. For those who can afford to travel to another state to receive a safe abortion, they may not be affected significantly by Roe. v. Wade being overruled. For women who are already disadvantaged, they will be burdened. Not to mention, states in which abortion is legal will likely experience a surge in clients more than the system will be able to handle.
❗❗❗ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE. ❗❗❗
Upholding the precedent set by Roe v. Wade is the bare minimum that can be done to help childbearers access safe healthcare. Any other outcome will be a deprivation of individual rights and have a substantial economic burden.
Why Aavia Cares💃
Our mission is to support people with ovaries to understand the hormones, their reproductive & sexual health, and help them feel empowered. Using birth control pills for any purpose, especially for contraception, is one of the liberties we believe in. Everyone has the right to their own body and autonomy over their own body. When the Texas Heart Beat Act first came to light, we wanted to help. We can’t stop the government, but we can help people prevent unwanted pregnancies, which will lower their need for abortions. By helping people take their birth control on time, the effectiveness of the pill increases. This is why we started the initiative where if you buy an Aavia Smart Birth Control Pill Case, we will donate one for free to someone in Texas who needs it. With your help, we were able to donate __ cases to Texas. For that, we say thank you. 💜
These are some of the resources that helped us get educated: