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The Current Stability of Roe v. Wade

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark decision that solidified the constitutional right to abortion—Roe v. Wade. The case erupted in 1971 when Norma McCorvey, or “Jane Roe” in the court documents, sued the attorney general of Texas, Henry Wade. Roe claimed that a Texas law banning her from access to an abortion was unconstitutional, violating her individual right to liberty. The Texas law denied Roe any choice, as it only allowed abortions to save a woman’s life. In the court case, Roe argued, “The Constitution protected her liberty to choose to have an abortion, above the state’s right to regulate abortion.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court agreed with Roe, declaring the right to an abortion as a fundamental liberty that is stronger than the state interest to limit.

The exception to this liberty is “the point of viability.” After a fetus has developed enough to be able to survive on its own outside the womb, the Court ruled a state can prohibit an abortion. This is the point in which the state’s interest in protecting a fetus outweighs the woman’s right to choose whether she is pregnant or not. The states still possessed the authority to place their restrictions on abortion.

In almost 50 years since the ruling, anti-abortion and pro-life state politicians have waged significant efforts that directly challenge Roe’s affirmed constitutional right. In recent years, there have been numerous strict abortion laws in states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, states with the most restrictive abortion bans in the country. Last month, the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In May of last year, Republican Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, signed legislation into law that bans abortion at six weeks of pregnancy—a deadline so early in gestation that many may not be aware they are pregnant. This is a near-total ban, as these laws are considered to be unconstitutional and in direct defiance of the precedent of Roe v. Wade.

With Texas denying safe abortion access to almost seven million women of reproductive age and many more states following with restricted access to abortion, the pro-choice and pro-abortion community expects the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Roe v Wade. These laws demand the Court to ignore long-established, legal precedent and completely overturn the rulings of Roe v. Wade. The Court listened and complied, signaling its willingness to do just that—reject and overturn decades of their own decisions to defend abortion as constitutional liberty. The turning point for the anti-abortion movement occurred on Sept. 1, 2021, when the Supreme Court failed to shut down the Texas six-week ban. The law went into effect, giving hope to the Mississippi state lawyers who believe their case can be the catalyst for a complete revocation of Roe v. Wade.

Modern medical advancements have brought the “point of viability” to significantly earlier stages in pregnancy. With this point being the barrier between the state’s interests and women’s liberty, an essential indication of when the state can prohibit abortion, the integrity and protection of Roe v. Wade is dwindling. In 2021 alone, 97 state-level abortion restrictions were enacted. In the 49 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, 1,327 restrictions have been enacted by state legislatures—580 of those were enacted in the past 10 years. With an uproar in Republican state laws directly challenging and fighting national abortion rights, the stability of Roe v. Wade is impactfully damaged and hangs in the balance. As our Supreme Court currently holds a threatening six to three conservative anti-abortion majority, the reproductive liberties granted by this nation will soon become obsolete.

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Hey everyone! I'm a junior at FSU majoring in Editing, Writing and Media. I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL (the 954). You'd most likely catch me eating a bowl of cereal, listening to Kid Cudi and lighting an incense (yes, all at once).
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