A look at Roe v. Wade 46 years later

Sydney Byrd, a second-year pre-nursing student at Florida A&M University receiving a prize from collegiate Planned Parenthood volunteers. 
Photo Submitted by Kayla Lawson.

The landmark decision in the Roe v. Wade case has dramatically changed the United States’ reproductive health care system by making abortion legal.

The Supreme Court ruled on this case on Jan. 22, 1973, making this the 46th anniversary.

While the topic of abortion is regarded as controversial by many, 69 percent of Americans polled by Pew Research Center in December 2016 supported the case and were not in favor of it being overturned.

“Roe v. Wade was an instrumental step in ensuring folks’ access to safe and legal abortions. This codified a person’s right to choose when and if she would carry a child to term. With so many attacks on our bodies, Roe v. Wade is a bright light and foundation for autonomy over our decisions,” said Jasmen Rogers-Shaw, a political organizer and strategist.

Brett Kavanaugh, the most recent member of the Supreme Court, is very vocal about his disapproval of Roe v. Wade. Many who support a woman’s right ot choose are fearful that now with a majority conservative Supreme Court the landmark case could be overturned.

If this were to happen, women’s healthcare in this country would look a lot different. Some women like Taylor Hemphill, a sophomore political science major at Florida A&M University, believe the overturning of Roe v. Wade might not be for the better.

“If abortions were banned then the homeless rate would increase because of more children becoming wards of the state and the cycle that emerges from that. Also, more mothers would be forced to lean onto the government for assistance, ” said Hemphill.

Florida Planned Parenthood legislative representative Laura Hernandez believes that the landmark case may be in danger.

“I feel that Roe v. Wade is definitely in jeopardy. We’re seeing a lot of states passing state law that chips away at Roe V. Wade and bans abortion at certain stages in the pregnancy. Six and 20 week bans have been filed,” said Hernandez.

Such bans are even making their way around the Florida House of Representatives. House Bill 135, also referred to as “the heartbeat bill,” would prohibit abortions after a physician has detected a fetal heartbeat. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a fetal heartbeat could be detected via vaginal ultrasound as early as five-and-a-half weeks.

In addition to bills that would restrict access to legal abortions, there are also bills that would expand reproductive health care, such as increasing access to Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) Pilot Program and the Clinic Protection Act.

The LARC Pilot Program is defined in Senate Bill 410 and would increase access to long acting reversible contraception, which include contraception in the form of intrauterine devices (IUDs), injections, and implants.

The Clinic Protection Act would prohibit a person from intimidating, threatening, or physically injuring or obstructing clients, providers, and assistants of reproductive health service centers. It would also authorize attorneys to bring a civil action for such violations. This act, as outlined in Senate Bill 412, is similar to the national Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

While the previously mentioned bills will face a definite decision by the end of Florida’s spring 2019 legislative session, the future of Roe v. Wade is still very uncertain. Hernandez believes the overturning of Roe v. Wade could have a disastrous effect on America.

“It would make abortion unsafe for women and have a huge impact on communities of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, and rural communities. These are people that are already disenfranchised and it would make access that much more difficult for them. This would threaten access for more than 25 million women in the country,” Hernandez said.