Roe v. Wade ruling puts other human rights in the US in jeopardy

By Sean Rivero

On June 24th, 2022, the U.S Supreme Court made one of the most controversial decisions in its entire history. In a 5-4 majority rule, the decision to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions nationwide, has led to immense outrage and protests across the nation. The message sent by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is one that frightens many people. With 62% of Americans still in favor of Roe v. Wade, the decision demonstrates how disconnected the Supreme Court is from the everyday American. As for the temptation for some states to try and take the opportunity of this decision to maintain and/or impose a ban on abortions, it is rather obvious. According to the New York Times, who tracks the situation from close, “about half of (American) states are expected to enact bans on abortion or other gestational limits on the procedure.”. 

The ruling by the Supreme Court is an outrageous overstep by the government by violating a women’s basic human right of autonomy over her own body. The decision alienates women who want to receive abortions and causes a severe health risk not only physically but mentally as well. Abortions already take on a heavy toll on the woman carrying and is not an easy experience to endure. Making it illegal has only taken an already extremely difficult situation to a near impossible one for women. “Back alley” abortions will return, putting them in unnecessary danger. Furthermore, this decision reinforces the idea that women are to be told what to do with their bodies, increasing the mental harm that it will have on women in general – and most probably on young women in particular. What the Supreme Court has done was not rectify a past mistake but take away a basic human right to half of its citizens.  

A biproduct of the ruling is the fear and worry for the precedent this sets. If the Supreme Court is able and willing to overturn such a landmark case such as Roe v. Wade, many fear that other landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in public schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, could also be under attack. Many people who come to the United States in hope of freedom of religion and expression are now living in fear that their rights could also be taken away. This decision did not move the country forward, it only brought it back in time. The moment a country’s progress begins to be overturned and erased is the beginning of that country letting fear and bigotry hold it captive. What would be next? Denying gay men and women the right to marry who they please, for example? That would be to deny love itself. If that were to happen, why would the Supreme Court stop there and not overturn Loving v. Virginia, a decision which ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S: Constitution? And what would stop them from seeing the return of segregation, if they happened to be really willing to do so?  

The precedent and message this ruling sets is that of dividing and fear. Women now must live with the fact that the government has a say in what they do with their own bodies and other marginalized communities are now waiting in fear and anxiety, with the knowledge that there is a Supreme Court that is willing and able to revoke basic human rights for certain groups of people. For a country whose slogan is “land of the free,” this overturning was its antithesis.  

Sean Rivero is a student at the Chaifetz School of Business at Saint Louis University – Madrid Campus. This article is part of a service-learning assignment centered on Social Justice.

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