Abortion is a Fundamental Right


Meira German

A large crowd rallied in Willard Park in Cleveland Saturday, May 14 in support of abortion rights.

According to a draft decision prepared by Justice Samuel Alito and leaked to Politico in early May, the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that protects a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

Although the leaked judgment is a draft, four other conservative justices voted in support of Alito’s decision, making it likely that  Roe v. Wade will  be overturned when the Supreme Court releases its final decision within a few months. 

In other words, five Supreme Court justices believe that a woman has no right to her own body, no right to remove the result of a rapist’s forcible violation of her body and no right to abort a child she cannot care for financially or emotionally. Many Beachwood students believe that this decision is completely unfair. 

“I think it’s completely unfair for the government to deny women to make choices about their own bodies,” junior Megan Harlan said. 

It is also important to look at the history of the five Supreme Court justices who are voting to  overturn Roe v. Wade. Justice Clarence Thomas, who was nominated by former president George Bush in 1991, was accused of sexual harrassment by Anita Hill, a subordinate at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated by former president Donald Trump, was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school. Several other women have also accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.  

Five Supreme Court justices believe that a woman has no right to her own body, no right to remove the result of a rapist’s forcible violation of her body and no right to abort a child she cannot care for financially or emotionally.

So, it is quite galling that these two men even get to pass judgment on women’s choices. It is also crucial to emphasize that three of the Supreme Court justices in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade–Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett–were nominated by a former president who  lost the popular vote and was twice impeached by House of Representatives.

“The basis of our democracy needs to be questioned,” junior Naomi Shroge said. “The decision to overturn this vital case is being made by a court packed with judges whose president did not win the popular vote.” 

One of the most fundamental claims in Justice Alito’s decision is that the right to abortion was not established at the time of American independence. 

“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” Justice Alito wrote.

However, Alito’s statement does not acknowledge that America has drastically changed since 1776, with large numbers of women living autonomous lives and generally being considered equal to men in matters of intellect and decision making – both ideas that would be considered preposterous when the U.S. was founded. 

Additionally, some argue that the Fourteenth Amendment, which was adopted in 1868,  does protect fundamental rights such as abortion. 

“The right to abortion flows logically from these fundamental rights that the Fourteenth Amendment was written to protect,” wrote  David Gans, a constitutional litigator and scholar at the Constitutional Accountability Center. 

Many pro-life advocates argue that the fetus is a person and that the life of a fetus should be legally protected; however, two thirds  of abortions occur before the eight-week mark. This is when a fetus is still an embryo and unquestionably exists on a cellular level while humans live on an organism level.

The organism’s life processes are formed and maintained at numerous physiological levels known by biologists as levels of organization: the cellular level, tissue level, organ level, organ system level and organism level. 

Having this major decision occur while being a 16-year-old girl is really frightening. Not surprising, but frightening.

— Junior Naomi Shroge

The first and most basic level is the cellular level. Early, undifferentiated cells differentiate and become specialized in structure and function during this developmental process, but this level consists of nothing but cells. The organism level is composed of various organ systems that function altogether. 

It is important to emphasize that all living organisms are composed of cells. So why don’t pro-lifers argue that trees, which is an organism composed of cells, must not be cut down? Cutting down a tree  is essentially killing the tree’s cells, so why is it any different when applied to abortion? 

Conservatives also claim that because the woman agreed to intercourse, she has responsibility for the outcomes. But, we don’t apply this logic in other areas, and it would be absurd if we did. Do you agree to a car accident when you get in the car? No, because you recognize that while cause and effect may exist in this case, they are not organically linked events, and both require your consent to be a willing participant. 

“[Abortion] is a healthcare right,” junior Sarah Katz said.

Pregnancies can devastate women’s bodies, so being unable to access a safe abortion can be harmful and even deadly.

It is also important to realize that many states have already begun to pass laws that rip away the rights that women have in controlling her own body. The Heartbeat Bill passed the Ohio House and Senate in Ohio on April 10, 2019 and by passing this law, Republican legislators and Governor DeWine tell women what to do with their bodies. This law prohibits abortions beyond six weeks. Most women don’t discover they’re pregnant until four to seven weeks after missing their period, in case you didn’t know. This leaves a woman with little to no time to make a decision that will have a significant impact on her life. The Heartbeat Bill is currently on hold but this may soon change if the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.  

“Having this major decision occur while being a 16-year-old girl is really frightening,” Shroge said. “Not surprising, but frightening.” 

No one wants to get an abortion, but every woman who chooses to get an abortion has a valid reason for doing so. They could not have the financial wherewithal to care for a child. They may be very young and lack the resources necessary to raise a child. The mother may be experiencing personal difficulties and are unable to provide a nice life for the child. They don’t want to go through the agony of carrying the pregnancy to term and then having to give their child up for adoption. A pregnancy can be life-threatening for both the mother and the fetus in some circumstances. Continuing an unplanned pregnancy in these situations might result in a poor quality of life for both the mother and the child. 

“I’m honestly appalled,” Shroge added. “Not only am I upset on the basis of women’s rights and having bodily autonomy, but it’s sad to think how this is going to hit on a socioeconomic level.” 

Banning abortion won’t stop it, it would just stop safe abortion. Rich people will always have access to abortions; this targets the poor.

— Junior Megan Harlan

The government shouldn’t have the authority to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her life and body. Women deserve to have the final say, and there is always a valid reason for their choice. What if she was a victim of rape or incest? Does Justice Alito comprehend how difficult it would be to carry a child who was conceived after such a traumatic event? You may believe that in a case like this, adoption is always a possibility, but a woman should have the right to decide whether to go through a pregnancy.

Restricting the legal right to abortion does not mean that abortions will not occur. Abortion has always occurred and will continue to exist: on the street, in back rooms, with  coat hangers, in horrendous conditions. For a woman who is carrying a kid she does not want, taking away the right to lawful abortion means one thing: It means that unless a woman has the financial resources to travel to another state or nation where abortion is allowed, she will have to choose between carrying an undesired child to term or risking the dangers of a backdoor abortion. In other words, a woman’s right to her body would be rejected.

“Banning abortion won’t stop it, it would just stop safe abortion,” Harlan said “Rich people will always have access to abortions; this targets the poor.”

 Women are still having decisions made for them in the twenty-first century. Will there ever be a time when women can declare they are entirely equal to men and have complete control over their bodies? Women everywhere, including me, will continue to stand up for themselves until that day arrives.