RIP Roe V. Wade; What Women's Reproductive Rights (Or Lack Thereof) Will Look Like In 2023



Written By: Anton Sawyer








It seems that I was raised reading a different version of the Bible than those of the “moral majority” who are doing victory laps in the wake of the leaked opinion showing the Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade in the Spring of 2022. One of the main lessons that I took away from The New Testament was that you need to get your own house in order before casting judgment on others. So when I see those who have bastardized these concepts in such a way that would elicit incredible glee when well-established rights have been taken away from their “brothers and sisters,” I feel the need to address it with a touch of reality. And that’s what brings us here today.

During the 2020s, there have been a number of states presenting new legislation aimed at restricting abortion to such archaic levels that a trip to the Supreme Court would be the only logical outcome. Because these laws have been in effect long enough to allow for preliminary research to be done, we now can estimate what American reproductive rights are going to look like by 2023 with a reasonable amount of certainty. Because the leaked opinion shows that the removal of reproductive rights predicated on abortion in the United States is a foregone conclusion, it’s important to know the numbers and how both the American healthcare system, and women in general, are going to be in a world of hurt.

Disclaimer: Long-time readers of The Indie Truther may remember a prior article that discussed the abortion restrictions in South Dakota and how that would give us a glimpse into the future of life without Roe v. Wade. Though this article does share one or two of the statistics presented in the prior piece, the other article was much more state-centric, with the information presented today being from many different locations in America, and their different experiences with these restrictions. Though you should probably go and check that article out here as well.



Senate Democrats, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Senate Democrats, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


 

In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.


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HOW DID WE GET HERE?

To be honest, I believe that the modern blitzkrieg approach to overturning Roe v. Wade began in the year 2001 after the country saw how much influence the Supreme Court had when it came to American politics; they essentially decided who the president was going to be. Yes, packing the courts being used as hyperbole has been around as long as politics have begun, but this Supreme Court ruling in the favor of Bush was when I think the concept began to be weaponized in the modern sense. If you noticed after Bush was elected, a lot of the rhetoric used by the Republican party was based on changing the constitution. For example, one of the major portions of the 2004 election was incumbent President Bush constantly talking about amending the constitution to prevent gay marriage—even though he had no way of doing it. Much of the focus for the next 15 years was to play the numbers game against the DNC when it came to filling vacant judges seats, with each president looking to outperform the numbers of his predecessor. Then luck fell the way of the GOP.

With carefully crafted manipulation techniques, the Republican Party was able to stall Obama from naming a justice. Between that and two other vacancies occurring during the Trump administration, the SCOTUS was prime for the picking, and the rest is history. Because of this patience, combined with relentless pursuit and a little luck, the conservative caucus in the United States has finally won the long game and with the 2022 leak of the Supreme Court opinion showing that Roe is dead-(wo)man walking, one of their major goals has been realized.

Due to the level of zeal most of these people have when it comes to the fact that they are “saving one of God’s precious lives,” the next section shows that medical realities and numbers will mean nothing. For the rest of us, it’s a legitimate examination of being careful what you wish for.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

One thing that has been apparent since these strict abortion laws began rearing their ugly heads, was how surface level those who support the restrictions have kept their observations at. Their questions rely on the simplest of answers because that is all they are looking for to justify their endgame. It seems they never learned the concept that the simplest answer isn’t always the correct one.

For example, when it comes to women having unsafe abortions (i.e. at home or the like), the numbers are clear. Global estimates from 2010 to 2014 demonstrate that 45% of all induced abortions are unsafe. In this report, the term “unsafe” is defined as an abortion performed by untrained persons using dangerous and invasive methods. Of all unsafe abortions, one-third were performed under the least safe conditions, i.e., by untrained persons using dangerous and invasive methods. Given that we have already seen some people attempt this dangerous home option with the arrest of Lizelle Herrera in Texas who was charged with murder for a self-induced abortion, we can only surmise that there are many others already taking this route that we have not heard about. Though the charges were eventually dropped and Herrera was released, the fact that this event took place within months of the Texas ban going into effect, it shows that women will do what they want with their bodies.

So what does the Supreme Court have to say about such dangers of those who attempt unsafe abortions? Adoption is going to solve these kinds of issues! The SCOTUS opinion noted that "a woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home." Also, during oral arguments of the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggested that the existence of safe-haven laws and adoption in general rendered moot the pro-choice argument that abortion access protects women from "forced motherhood." The only problem is that the numbers state otherwise. A 2008 CDC report that found "nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand for a child), whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent." The numbers haven’t gotten much better since then.

Another surface-level element pro-life advocates like to share is the declining numbers of abortions being performed after these laws have gone into effect. According to a data analysis by News Watch, abortions performed in South Dakota fell from about 400 in 2019 to 125 in 2020. South Dakota Right to Life Director Dale Bartscher said the pause on the procedures in the state in 2020 “saved more lives,” was “wonderful” for the efforts to eliminate abortion in the state, and is one of several factors contributing to the anti-abortion movement “winning this war.” Finishing with, “It is our goal to see that abortion is illegal and unthinkable.” Of course, when breaking down the numbers of nearby states, you see how the South Dakota numbers could be lower. In 2019, 33 South Dakota women went to Nebraska for an abortion. In 2020, 132 traveled there for the procedure. In 2019, 152 South Dakota women traveled to Minnesota for an abortion, compared to 99 in 2019.

When breaking down the numbers of ALL states with declining abortions, you see that the women are just going to areas where it’s still legal.

An early 2022 report from Planned Parenthood found that health centers in Texas' surrounding states saw a nearly 800% increase in abortion patients from Texas between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021. Conversely—or as I like to call the “cause”—the same report found that in Texas, the number of clinic abortions performed in the state fell by approximately 60% in the first month after Senate Bill 8 was enacted. During the first four months of S.B. 8 being in effect, Planned Parenthood clinics saw the following increases. Oklahoma saw a nearly 2,500% increase in Texas patients compared to the previous year. New Mexico saw a 100% increase in patients with Texas zip codes. In Colorado, there was a more than 1,000% increase in abortion patients from Texas, "compared to previous years," according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. There’s so much more, but I think you get the picture.

Like real-life whack-a-mole, the Republican party has decided to bring about new legislative measures as these statistics arise to keep the obeyance of their will iron-clad. In an attempt to stifle this kind of travel, lawmakers in Missouri weighed legislation in early 2022 that would allow individuals to sue anyone helping a patient cross state lines for an abortion. The law was ultimately blocked in the state’s legislature, but experts expect such legislation to gain more support if Roe is weakened or overturned. “I think states are not going to rest with just saying ‘there won’t be abortions in our state.’ I think they’re going to want to ban abortion for their citizens as much as they can, which would mean stopping them from traveling,” said David Cohen, professor at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law and lead author of a forthcoming article on cross-state legal issues that could arise in the abortion context. “We’re going to see state-against-state battles that are really going to divide this country even deeper on this issue.”

13 states have decided to forego all of this legal back-and-forth by taking a pre-emptive approach by passing “trigger laws.” This means that once this abortion ban goes into effect by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade—a reality that is merely biding time—these states will automatically trigger certain laws about reproductive rights. Each state has its own interpretations and specific laws that will begin immediately. Idaho’s trigger law, for example, would make performing an abortion a felony 30 days after the “issuance of the judgment in any decision of the United States supreme court that restores to the states their authority to prohibit abortion.” The law states that the offense would be punishable by a prison sentence of two-to-five years in prison. This is just one of them.

And though I’m aware some states are trying to implement reproductive rights in their respective state constitutions through codifying, even if they are passed, this will do nothing for those who are in a restrictive area and can’t get out.

So, is all hope lost?



WAYS OUT OF THIS “FORCED MOTHERHOOD”

For those of you who are vehemently opposed to this death sentence Roe has received, there are some ways around these human rights obstructions. Though the first option is more or less a band-aid, it’s still one that I’m sure will be utilized in spades: go to Canada, where abortion is legal at any point of the pregnancy. Karina Gould, the minister of families, children, and social development, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shortly after the SCOTUS opinion leak that Americans will be able to obtain abortions in Canada should the Supreme Court overturn the landmark abortion rights decision, Roe v. Wade. “I don’t see why we would not,” she stated. “If they, people, come here and need access, certainly, you know, that’s a service that would be provided.” Though this option of travel is tailored to more individual needs, there is also an option for those of you who wish to see things go back to the way they have been for the last 50 years with abortions being legal. We’ll call it “congressional creativity.”

Though I have written before that the Supreme Court of the United States is the most powerful branch of the three—which I still believe—there is still a way that congress can reign in the judicial overreach that often permeates from the SCOTUS rulings. A joint review of dozens of Supreme Court cases by The Intercept and the American Prospect found dozens of statutory rulings that Congress could overturn simply by tweaking the statute to remove whatever ambiguity the court claimed to find in its text. Even where the court has ruled on constitutional grounds, there is often much room left to legislate the boundaries, just as conservatives have done in relation to Roe v. Wade and abortion restrictions. From salvaging the Voting Rights Act gutted by Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 to protecting workers’ free speech rights on the job or safeguarding reproductive rights, if Congress truly wanted to, they could take back control from the court. This can happen because these “overrides” can be passed on an individual basis, as part of larger omnibus bills, or even tacked on to unrelated appropriations or debt ceiling bills.

It seems the resolution is apparent. As cheesy as it sounds … voting in the right people can return Roe.

I know that power begets power and that most politicians who take up residency in Washington are going to become corrupt and supplant the will of their constituents with replacements of their own. But in all reality, unless you want to have to make a trip to the Great White North for all your reproductive needs/freedoms, there is going to have to be a major campaign focus on abortion rights.

Before this opinion was leaked, I honestly thought there was going to be a red wave in the mid-term elections of 2022. Now, I’m not so sure. You’ve seen where we’re headed with this article and have a good idea of what needs to be done to reverse course on this runaway train. It just so happens that in our resources section we have the links to register to vote, along with contacting your congressman. Maybe we should take a cue from our religious zealot friends and look out for our less fortunate “brothers and sisters.”


 

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