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Supreme Court shows disregard for women's lives

Carla Bleiker
Carla Bleiker
May 3, 2022

A draft opinion reveals that the top US court plans to get rid of federal abortion rights, according to a report. Taking women's agency away like this is appalling and will lead to fatalities, writes DW's Carla Bleiker.

Protesters in Florida holding up signs with slogans like "Bans off our bodies" and "Misogyny kills more people than abortion"
In February, protesters demonstrated against strict abortion laws in Florida.Image: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

If the Supreme Court has its way, the United States will no longer be a welcoming place to live for anyone who can get pregnant. On Monday night, a draft opinion by the court's majority was leaked and suggests that the Supreme Court plans to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision — and thus do away with federal abortion rights.

Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling, enshrined the constitutional right to access abortion. A 1992 decision that upheld this right will also be overturned, according to a leak of the initial majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and revealed by Politico.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote, adding that it "must be overruled."

"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives."

Republican states have been waiting to ban abortion

DW's Carla Bleiker
DW's Carla Bleiker has covered the abortion debate in the US for yearsImage: privat

If the Supreme Court goes through with this, abortion rights will be decided in each US state by the people governing them. State governors and state legislatures can ban abortion if they want to.

And many Republican-governed states want to, that much has been crystal clear, with strict restrictions on pregnancy terminations recently instated in states like Texas and Mississippi.

These conservative lawmakers would have nothing to hold them back from happily doing away with abortion rights altogether.    

If you're someone who can get pregnant, the message is loud and clear: The highest court of the US does not care about you. Neither do the legislators who are chomping at the bit to translate the decision into action. Nor do all the people who facilitated a political climate in which the term "pro-life" has come to mean protecting the life of a fetus at all costs — all the while not caring one bit for the girl or the woman in whose womb these cells are growing.

The callous disregard for women's lives is appalling. After all, cutting off all legal avenues for abortion does not mean that no one will terminate their pregnancies anymore. It simply means they will resort to finding other — and often unsafe — ways.

Those who can afford it will travel to Democratic-governed states that still offer access to essential healthcare and obtain an abortion there. Those who don't have the money, or can't take time off from their jobs, or can't miss their high school midterms and family dinner, will seek other ways.   

Cutting off access to a safe, sanitary and legal abortion means the people who are most desperate will turn to illegal abortions, be they medical or surgical. And being cornered into such drastic measures means people will die.

Fighting for the right to access abortion in US

Don't want to be pregnant? Too bad

The pressure that girls, women, and anyone in the US who can get pregnant — but do not plan on doing so — will carry is sickening. The same goes for those who have planned pregnancies and must consider abortion for health reasons.

And what fresh terror will survivors of sexual assault also face? If they end up pregnant after the traumatic experience, they might see no way out.

Trying to terminate a pregnancy without legal means can be life-threatening, and having to carry to term a baby you don't want can have devastating consequences on one's mental health. 

The leaked majority opinion of the Supreme Court spells the end of the federal law that for five decades protected a woman's choice to do what she thought best when it came to a life-altering decision.

Now, state legislatures will be free to take that agency away.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave, where conservatives viewed having to wear a mask as an infringement on their personal freedom, the terrifying truth is this: If you live in the wrong state, your personal rights, your ownership over your body, your power to decide what to do with your own life, may go up in smoke as soon as you get pregnant.  

Carla Bleiker
Carla Bleiker Editor, channel manager and reporter focusing on US politics and science@cbleiker