With all those headlines this week about Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court, you’d think a decision had been handed down. But no, it was just a hearing of the arguments that, supposedly, will factor into the court’s decision: Should Mississippi be allowed to ban all abortions after 15 weeks? We probably won’t know until next June or July.
It seems, however, that upholding the Mississippi law would necessitate the overturn of Roe v. Wade since Roe specifically forbids abortion bans prior to viability, or about 22-24 weeks.
Quoting from the original text of the Roe v. Wade decision, starting on page 52:
To summarize and to repeat:
- A state criminal abortion statute of the current Texas type, that excepts from criminality only a lifesaving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the other interests involved, is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician.
(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.
(c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the
Given the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, it is with great sadness that I try to prepare myself for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. I’ve written often that I think a woman’s right to an abortion should be unquestioned and unchallenged by anyone. It’s her choice and no one else’s, especially not those driven by their own religious beliefs instead of medical science. (We do, supposedly, still have separation of church and state in the US.) But I see no way to uphold the Mississippi law without abandoning Roe v. Wade.
As a result, each state will be allowed to pass its own law regarding abortion. Not all will prohibit abortion but as many as 26 are poised to do so. Women in those states will have to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion — and many will not have the means to do so.
Abortion is a medical issue, not a political or religious issue. It’s a very personal, very private decision for each woman and her doctor — and no one else. The right to choose should and currently does belong to every woman — she can choose abortion or pregnancy. Either way, it’s her right to choose. For herself, not for others. And that’s as it should be.