The constitutional right to abortion could have its days numbered in the United States. And, with its repeal after almost half a century of existence, going to jail for voluntarily terminating a pregnancy could be a reality not too far away.
An unprecedented leak from the American newspaper pilitic this week raised a social, media and political uproar of incalculable magnitude, with the controversial attention focused on the draft of an agreement between magistrates of the Supreme Court, signed in February of this year, which aims to repeal the current abortion law in force since Roe vs. Wade. In that landmark 1973 case, the nation’s highest judicial institution ruled that the US Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose to terminate her pregnancy without undue government restrictions.
Although each State of the country is a world apart and the Constitution is not interpreted in the same way nor are the rules applied in the same way, depending on the color of the ruling party and the mentality of its population, which is influenced by various factors related to race , religion, culture and customs. If the current abortion law is repealed, at least 26 of them would prohibit the termination of pregnancy in all its formshalf a dozen of them imposing even “extreme” rules with prohibitions that would take effect as soon as the judges rule against it and make that draft a reality.
Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming are those 13 States that would apply extreme measures against abortion and, furthermore, by having what are known as “trigger laws” would automatically prohibit the termination of pregnancy in the first and last instance, without contemplating any exceptions such as incest, rape or risk to the mother’s health, and would put those who do not comply with the law behind bars.
Some state leaders have not waited for that moment to come and took advantage of these days’ debate to immediately approve stricter anti-abortion laws. This is the case of Oklahoma, whose governor Kevin Stitt wants to make it “the most pro-life state in the United States”, launching, to achieve this goal, the law heartbeatwhat prohibits abortion after six weeks of gestationwhen in most cases women do not yet know that they are pregnant.
Thousands of Americans, for and against revoking the right to abortion after the leak of what seems to be already a decision agreed by the powerful conservative majority of the highest judicial institution, came out en masse in the streets of the main cities of the country.
“My body, my decision”, could be read in the banner of Nataly McGartland, a university student from Maryland who approached the doors of the Supreme Court to protest what she considers to be her rights as a woman. “I think it’s extremely important for women to be truly equal, and that includes economic freedoms and reproductive freedoms.”
The massive spontaneous concentration outside the emblematic building that houses the headquarters of the judiciary in the United States has forced the authorities to extreme safety precautions, moving to its facade the remains of the fence that served months ago to protect the Capitol compound after the historic assault on January 6, 2021.
“Abortion is violence”, defended Robert Byrd holding in his hands the inscription written in his own handwriting. This 29-year-old pro-life activist, from the other coast of the country, the city of San Francisco, believes that “it takes only one or two people to shake the world, for better or for worse.”
Much of the debate surrounding the issue of abortion among the US population centers around defending the distinction as to when exactly a person’s life is considered to begin. While some, the most conservative, assure that from the very moment of conception, others defend that life begins when the fetus is already formed, the most liberal being those who justify that it is the birth of the baby that gives life to the human being .
Although the nuances, background and form of opinions vary as much as the heterogeneity represented by the Americans themselves. In the religious organization “Catholics by Choice” they say they offer “a single voice” for those who believe that “Catholic tradition supports the right to follow their conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.”
Its director of Communication, Ashley Wilson, hopefully explains in front of the Supreme Court that “Catholics defend abortion” and believes that this national movement after the leak of the magistrates’ draft “may be a wake-up call for other Catholics like me, they are in favor of abortion, so that they talk a little more about their beliefs.”
Among the concentrations spread throughout the country, some public faces share their own experience with the subject. This is the case of the Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel, who says that she was forced to interrupt one of the pregnancies of her triplet pregnancy, as the doctors suggested, in order to save the lives of the other two. “Now I have two beautiful children, instead of none,” she highlights Nessel.
“Women know better than the Government how to manage our own complications in pregnancy, we have done it for 50 years in this country,” adds the Michigan Attorney General, who has taken the case personally and also denounces that “the doctors and citizens should not be able to go to jail for health problems, this is not a political issue that the Republican candidates should decide.
If the decision of the judges who signed the previous agreement materializes, more than half of the states in the country will quickly make all abortion methods illegal, forcing people who still want to carry it out to move to clandestine places, to travel to other States where they can have legal access or even face years in prison for a crime.
“If it were babies, we would have excellent and free universal maternal care. They wouldn’t charge her a dime to give birth, no matter how complicated her delivery was. If it were babies, we would have months and months of parental leave, for everyone,” Leila Cohan, the Los Angeles-based film and TV writer, denounced on Twitter.
Medical abortion, known as the “abortion pill”, has also now entered the debate. The combination of these drugs, which are licensed for use during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, has become popular in recent decades and now accounts for more than half of recent pregnancy terminations in the United States. If the legal guarantee of the constitutional right to abortion disappears, the commercialization of this type of drug could increase until it becomes one of the most sought after on the market and, as a consequence, the center of new battles between political formations.
Without forgetting that next November, Democrats and Republicans will play for control of both Houses of Congress in the mid-term legislative elections and, with a society already polarized, the issue of abortion promises to become a throwable partisan tool to win the vote of the electorate.