Fighting for Our Freedom: How Overturning Roe v. Wade Could Set Back Civil Liberties


May 3rd, 2022 was a normal Tuesday for FLHS students. Students went to class, did their work, and went home at the end of the day. Nobody was aware of the shocking news about to unfold, nobody knew how soon that day would go down. That Tuesday was the day a draft for the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade was released, jeopardizing the lives of millions of Americans across the country.

For those that don’t know (or are just scared to check the news), Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court case in 1973 that changed the way the government could interact with women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women had the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion under the trimester framework. However, state governments had permission to limit abortions, like regulating abortions dependent on which trimester a woman is at in the three trimesters of pregnancy.

Overtime, this ruling of Roe v. Wade has been challenged as the discourse about abortion continues. It’s an issue that’s been ongoing for decades, and most recently was resurfaced in the Dobbs v. Jackson (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) Court case, challenging the 2018 Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.  

Yet, on May 2, 2022, a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion heavily pointed to the overturning of the decision in Roe v. Wade. In other words, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade’s decision, abortion would be illegal or criminalized in some states across the U.S. 

Though it may not seem like it, a decision this vital could lead to detrimental consequences. If the government decided to outlaw abortions, these procedures wouldn’t stop. We saw it happen before the decision in Roe v. Wade: many women were still having abortions, just unsafe ones. Before 1973, unsafe abortions resulted in an estimated number of about 5,000 deaths. 

Furthermore, taking away this right would disastrously affect a certain group of women. Elizabeth Warren put it best when she said that the burden of making abortions illegal would fall on poor and working class women. Wealthy women have the means to fly out to other countries, to find the resources they need in order to get this procedure done. 

Women who work twelve hours daily won’t have time to take off and get an abortion. Poor women with children—who can barely afford to take care of themselves—can’t travel states away. Simply put, making abortion inaccessible to the women who need it the most would shut out millions of middle-class women, as well as the 23.5 million American women below the poverty line. 

Making abortion illegal also attacks other marginalized groups who already struggle with access to healthcare, such as transgender people and women of color. Outlawing this procedure doesn’t help these groups; it only worsens the gravity of their situation. 

We seem to forget the principles America was founded on and how this violates the rights we are guaranteed as American citizens. According to the Ninth Amendment, the people of the United States still have certain rights, even if those rights are not directly stated (or enumerated) in the Constitution. Denying people the right to an abortion—a human right and a civil liberty – directly contradicts this.

In the case of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that state laws banning abortions were unconstitutional because of the due process clause recognized in the 14th Amendment. This states that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It’s the word “liberty” that means “freedom.” So freedom to do what? What are the liberties in the Constitution? Some of them are listed like the first eight Amendments in the Bill of Rights, and some of them don’t have to be, as the Ninth Amendment states. 

In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut there was a fundamental right to privacy, even though this right wasn’t explicitly stated in the Constitution. They said the right to privacy was implied through other Amendments, including the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and yes, 9th Amendment. In simple terms, having this right means that one’s personal liberties will be protected from any states trying to infringe on them. The right to privacy was instrumental in the decision in Roe v. Wade, which extended this right to include the right to have an abortion.

It’s important to note that the 14th amendment wasn’t only used to legalize abortion, but also to legalize same-sex marriage. This is where the impacts of Roe v. Wade start to get even more profound. If the decision in Roe v. Wade gets overturned, it is quite possible that same-sex marriage could also become illegal in certain states. Why? Unenumerated rights are now being attacked with possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. Once again, this directly attacks and discriminates against marginalized groups.

Some states are trying to fight this overturning by providing protections in their state constitutions. New York, for example, has already proposed including the right to an abortion in their constitution. The decision to add this amendment is predicted to be decided by 2024. This would provide protection for New Yorkers looking to get an abortion, and if other states follow suit with similar decisions, their residents would gain protection too.

This possible overturning has led to many protests across the United States and right in front of the Supreme Court as people demand their natural human rights. Frankly, as citizens of the United States, we shouldn’t have to beg to be treated as human beings. It is 2022 and yet we are still telling people that they are not equal and that they don’t deserve to be treated with respect. It is not okay.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade would have detrimental effects on women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, those in poverty, and other marginalized groups. Harming the citizens that need the most protection and support leaves nothing but a poor reflection of our country. So we must ask ourselves, who is this really helping?