Thirty years it’s been this way; Roe v. Wade is here to stay. Or is it? The Supreme Court is at its most precarious position since it handed down Roe v. Wade in 1973. With a docket containing multiple reproductive health-related cases, we need to pay attention. I wonder: can our generation truly comprehend how far we have come in the realm of choice? Can we even begin to imagine what we have to lose should an anti-choice judge be appointed to the Supreme Court?
In 1965, Heather Booth was a college sophomore at the University of Chicago. A friend approached her about his sister: she was pregnant and she wanted an abortion. In the mind of this young woman, her options were abortion or suicide.
In the 1960s, because abortion was illegal, women were hemorrhaging to death and suffering from severe infections due to the unsanitary and dangerous conditions where these illegal, back-alley abortions were performed. Also, because abortion was illegal, those willing to perform them would charge outrageous amounts of money for the procedure. Heather took it upon herself to find this woman a doctor who would perform an abortion. She did find a doctor and the young woman safely obtained an abortion.
Word quickly and quietly spread around campus, and eventually throughout the area, that a woman had received a safe, low-cost abortion. To maintain anonymity and safety, people were told to call 643-3844 and ask for Jane. As this underground operation grew, Heather recruited a few trustworthy women to assist. Heather was no longer Jane; Jane became a well-organized, professional service that provided women with a choice before Roe v. Wade.
We have been fortunate to never experience life without Roe. However, there are so many state-imposed restrictions already in place and countless more waiting to be made into law that it is easy to see why the situation is so dire.
In some states, legislation has already been passed in the event that Roe is overturned. This year alone, more than 500 anti-choice laws are being considered by state legislatures. These laws are endangering the lives of women of all ages by reducing comprehensive sexual education and restricting access to abortion. In several states, women are required to listen to a state-mandated lecture containing distorted and even false information. After this lecture they must wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion. On top of that, across the nation and right here in D.C., clinics are inundated with protestors on a regular basis.
Cases surrounding clinic protesting, parental notification and abortion beyond the first trimester will be brought before the Supreme Court this session. The current Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito, is of major concern to the pro-choice community. He voiced the only dissent in the striking down of a law requiring women to obtain permission from their husbands to get an abortion. Essentially, a woman raped by her husband would have to acquire his permission in order to get an abortion. We have come a long way in t32 years, but if Sandra Day O’Connor is replaced with a radical, anti-choice justice, we have a lot to lose.
Before 1973 abortion was illegal almost every state. Before abortion was legalized, women were dying from botched and self-induced abortions. Before Roe, there was the Jane network, and it was able to provide women with a safe choice in dangerous times. It is the responsibility of this generation to preserve freedom of choice for the next generation.
We will never go back.
-The writer is a junior majoring in human services.