Editorial Excerpts, March 2022
Published: March 21, 2022
How the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in a case over a restrictive Mississippi abortion law is not just about abortion rights, because abortion rights are about so much more.
The loss or curtailment of a woman’s right to choose whether or not to end a pregnancy is a matter of sweeping consequence for women, children, families, the U.S. economy, and state and federal budgets. It would have consequences, too, for the legitimacy of a court that would infringe on a right that half the population has had for nearly half a century. …
Even if abortions and longer limits remain intact in some states, women in states with restrictions or bans would have to bear the costs of travel, lodging, care of children left at home, and time off from work. For women with low incomes, those costs and considerations could be onerous to the point of making it virtually impossible to obtain an abortion.
It means more unwanted children being born, many of them to women and families who cannot afford it. It means more families and children in poverty. It means more women out of the workforce—a workforce struggling now to find enough people to fill jobs.
And it means further demand on governments and taxpayers—for child health and nutrition programs, family food programs, social welfare support systems. For schools and day care. For police and courts and jails and prisons that must deal with the crime that poverty fosters. And on and on—literally, because poverty is a cycle that is hard to break from generation to generation.
… Justice may be blind, but the Court must not be oblivious to all this case is about.
… If Roe is overturned, it would be left to the states to set their own laws. While some states such as California and New York will protect access to abortion, many others have abortion bans on the books ready to go. To put control over abortion access completely in the hands of capricious, politically motivated state legislators would be a devastating blow to women and their ability to control their own bodies.
Access to abortion has been hobbled even under Roe, but a swath of states banning it outright is a step back from modernity that, frankly, a decade ago would have seemed unthinkable. The addition of three conservative justices during the Trump administration has encouraged states like Mississippi to pass blatantly unconstitutional bans on abortion in the hope that the Supreme Court would hear their appeals. Now, for the first time in nearly three decades, the Court is hearing a challenge to Roe. …
Opponents of the Roe decision argue that there is no explicit right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution. Of course there isn’t. But the 14th Amendment guarantees a right to a broad range of personal liberties. …
The one thing Roe has guaranteed is an abortion up to the point of viability. Take that away and a state could ban abortion at, say, three weeks of gestation—a point when almost no woman knows she is pregnant.
If that happens—and it could—women in half the country will have to travel to another state to get an abortion, no matter the cost, obtain abortion medication pills surreptitiously, or risk a dangerous do-it-yourself abortion. Handing power to state legislatures to set the rules for abortion is the equivalent of returning to a day when gay and interracial couples were not allowed to marry in certain states.
That would be terrible for the nation and for the health and safety of American women. The Supreme Court should do the right thing and uphold Roe once again.