OPINION: Roe v. Wade is Roe v. Wade—stop trying to change it

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MICKEY WELSH | THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER

Three women protesting Alabama’s new law banning nearly all abortions. The controversial law is the latest in a stream of bills designed to be challenged in court, with the potential to go to the Supreme Court.

After a week in which we saw insurrectionists attempt a coup in the nation’s Capitol and political leaders attempting to throw away our democratic processes, Americans must remember that these events are nothing new. Many leaders and politicians have undermined our constitution and laws for hundreds of years to fit their own beliefs.  

On Jan. 22 many people in the U.S. will be recognizing and celebrating the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. 

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the access to safe and legal abortion is deemed a constitutional right. This decision has stood for over 40 years, but is still under attack by many conservatives and politicians to this day. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is a pro-life politician who has spent much of his political tenure attacking the decisions in Roe v. Wade and undermining the historical, political and reproductive efforts it took to ensure legal and safe access to abortions. 

Since he was elected governor in 2018, DeWine worked to pass one of the most draconian abortion laws in the nation. In 2019, he signed the “Heartbeat Bill” which would ban abortions after a detectable heartbeat was heard through transvaginal ultrasound devices. In doing so, DeWine turned his back on his predecessor, Republican John Kasich, who had refused to sign the bill twice – deeming it unconstitutional. 

During DeWine’s term, Ohio has become the sixth state trying to outlaw abortions. The law is now commonly known as the Human Rights Protection Act, or SB 23, which makes abortions illegal as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy. 

This is an extremely problematic law because most people who become pregnant are not even aware of their pregnancy in those first four to six weeks.  

If this law does not seem cruel enough, Gov. DeWine has continued his attack on Roe v. Wade and the rights stated in the 14th Amendment. 

This past December, Republican lawmakers and Gov. DeWine signed a bill requiring fetal remains from surgical abortion procedures to be either cremated or buried. Individuals who do not comply with this law could face a first-degree misdemeanor and serve up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

While already imposing an unconstitutional abortion ban, DeWine and his efforts are plain and simply inhumane, egregious and problematic. These actions are not rare, as other states like Texas have attempted to sign a similar law into action.

 This is a politician who claims he is “pro-life” but yet does not support abortion even under the worst circumstances where pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape – instances where many people’s lives are on the line. He is pro-life, but supports the prohibition of public funds for organizations that perform abortions – organizations like Planned Parenthood who perform other vital medical tasks like well-woman exams, cancer screening and prevention, infertility services and general health care at little or no cost.

Politicians like Gov. DeWine are not pro-life, they are simply anti-abortion.  

Not only is this an attack on one of the most historic Supreme Court cases upheld by the U.S. Constitution, but it is an attack on the mental health and livelihood for those who follow through with abortions.

“[The bill] is nothing more than legislative harassment,” ACLU of Ohio lobbyist Gary Daniels said in his testimony against the bill. “It serves no legitimate medical purpose and is an obvious attempt to inconvenience patients, shut down abortion providers, and imprison doctors who do not comply with the numerous nonsensical regulations found in this bill.” 

This law does not include the additional embryonic and fetal tissue from miscarriages or still-births taken place in state medical facilities. Yet, proponents of this law claim it is “about the dignity for the unborn.”

 Strictly as Daniels states, this bill targets abortion providers and their practicies in hopes to drive up the costs of obtaining abortions for people and harrass providers by creating more expenses. 

The “dignity of the unborn” argument does not fool Daniels or myself. 

To many, this bill is seen as a destructive way to guilt people into not having abortions and add an extreme amount of financial and emotional distress. 

Having an abortion is already a very difficult decision and this tactic to try and guilt-trip people into keeping the baby is evil and makes the process so much worse,” Northern Illinois University freshman Nina Neilson said.

To impose a law that requires people who follow through with abortions to have a burial or cremation process is adding trauma to a situation that is already known to be heavily traumatic and difficult.

 “Women should have the ability to cope and process these feelings and situations as they need to, DeWine should not be able to decide how that is done for the woman,” Nora Clink, an Ohio resident and junior at Ursuline College, said. 

This law doesn’t just force procedures for burial or cremation, it also imposes that those who follow through with abortions must sign both a birth and death certificate therefore making the abortion public documentation. 

“The first problem would be what would be considered a ‘birth date’ to put on the birth certificate. Another very controversial aspect of this requirement is the father’s name being listed on the birth certificate — this can be traumatic in an instance of the mother being a victim of sexual assault,” Clink said. 

Additionally, making the two options for the remains to either be buried or cremated assumes that everyone follows Christian-like religious and funeral processes and ignores and disrespects other religious processes – which can be seen as a violation of the First Amendment

It’s been nearly 48 years. American politicians, especially those are who cis-men should not be trying to expel the rights stated in Roe v. Wade – or any human rights for that matter. 

At the end of the day, the truth of the matter is it is not their body,” Neilson said. “They will not be carrying it for nine months, they can opt-out whenever they want to. Women do not have that option.” 

To politicians in Texas, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and other states who are attempting to sign stringent abortion laws: stop. Signing anti-abortion laws into existence will not decrease the rate of abortions nationwide, it will not decrease the need for abortions. Since 2015, the rate of abortions reported among unmarried people in the U.S. has steadily increased from 362, 442 to 439,122 in 2018, despite further restrictions being enacted. 

 In Louisiana where abortion restrictions were placed in 2014, a study in 2015 showed that in result to widespread clinic closures, people would travel between 58 and 208 miles to seek abortion procedures.  Laws like these will only lead to people seeking abortions elseware or in unsafe places and practices. 

If you are pro-life, keep in mind that without the protections and safe guard for safe and legal abortions, people will die and they will die under your account. If you are pro-life, what are you doing to ensure protections and support for those who are forced to have a child, and how will you be there to ensure a world where a child can live past birth?

 In a report published in 2020 by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, it has been observed that the rate for infant mortality in states with restrictive abortion laws is higher than states without restrictions.

  Many of those who are pro-life do not seem to care much for the child or the parent after the child is born. These people are not pro-life – they are pro-birth. 

Roe v. Wade and the protections that come from it, should not be touched or harmed. 

The fundamental decisions, like becoming a parent, are ones that politicians or judges should not decide,” Clink said. 

The decision and outcomes of Roe v. Wade have existed for nearly 48 years, any attempt to modify it or repeal it will be a violent disgrace.

 Legal abortions does not mean that everyone who becomes pregnant will have one. Making abortions illegal or damaging the process of them does not mean people will stop getting them – it just means people will have to risk their lives getting them. 

The debate around Roe v. Wade and abortions has existed for far too long and opponents of it should look back and assess the damage they have caused.