Reversal of Roe would be far-reaching in painful impact

Angela Proietti-Nelson, Alex Andrasik for Finger Lakes Justice Partnership

Before continuing our exploration of the freedom of choice currently threatened by the Supreme Court, the Finger Lakes Justice Partnership must acknowledge the heartbreaking incidents of gun violence that erupted in the past two weeks, including the racially-motivated massacre in Buffalo on May 14 and the horrific attack on an elementary school in Texas, the details of which are emerging as we write.  Whatever your personal convictions, we hope you will join us not only in condemning this violence, but in working assertively to end it.  We will be extending opportunities for everyone of good will to engage on this in the near future.

Protesters gathered for a rally at the Oneida Square roundabout in Utica on Sunday, May 8, 2022. The decision to organize and rally over abortion rights came after a leaked draft document indicated that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The leaked Supreme Court draft decision indicates that the justices plan to overturn Roe v. Wade. Who will this affect? At least 13 states have trigger laws in place that will go into effect upon the reversal of Roe, outlawing abortion as early as six weeks — before many women know they are pregnant. Women who manage to circumvent those new restrictions could face punishments including $100,000 fines and ten years in jail.

Estimates for the numbers of additional births that will result from these laws are around 75,000 a year. What will become of these children? Of the top ten U.S. states with the highest child poverty rates, nine of them have trigger laws in place, and no additional plans to increase aid to fight poverty. The increased population is going to further strain underfunded public assistance budgets, leaving children further behind in basic needs and leading to increases in illness and death.

Abortion opponents usually push for making it illegal as if that’s the only way to lower the rate at which this medical procedure is performed. However, advocates for lowering abortion rates could put their efforts toward preventing unwanted pregnancies, such as advocating for comprehensive sex education in schools and making birth control affordable and accessible to everyone. There are also ways to make carrying a child to term a better choice for at least some people: no-cost maternal medical care, free childcare, and paid family leave, to name just a few. Why do many of these opponents fail to support such measures? That is a question best left to them to try to answer.  

In our last column, we mentioned that in the single case of abortion, the government seeks to step between individuals, their doctors, and the care they require. It may not be unique much longer, however, as IUDs and other forms of contraception could soon be banned in some states. Indeed, the erosion of these rights has inevitable implications for Americans’ right to privacy in general. Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the draft decision, claimed its scope is narrow — but given that every recently-appointed conservative justice testified in their confirmation hearings as to the inviolability of Roe, yet now seek to decimate it, it is hard to extend them further trust. The rights to interracial marriage and to same-sex marriage are considered by many to be hanging by a thread at this point — all for the sake of forcing one narrow set of values onto every American.

Finger Lakes Justice Partnership plans to submit a final column on the right to choose in coming weeks. In the meantime, stay safe and take care of one another.

Angela Proietti-Nelson, Alex Andrasik

Finger Lakes Justice Partnership