This Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear and rule on a Louisiana law concerning abortion access in the state. While an eerily similar law was vetoed in Texas in 2016, the agreement from the court to hear this case has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for future and even existing laws.
“June Medical Services v. Gee” examines a 2014 Louisiana law that requires doctors who want to perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location of the abortion. Admitting privileges are defined as “the right of a doctor, by virtue of membership as a hospital’s medical staff, to admit patients to a particular hospital or medical center for providing specific diagnostic or therapeutic services to such patient in that hospital.”
If this law were to go into effect tomorrow, it would leave one doctor able to provide abortions in the entire state of Louisiana, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Women across the entire state of Louisiana would not only have to rush to that doctor, but they’d also have to make sure a fetal heartbeat wasn’t detected in order to have an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.
Other states have also passed massively restrictive abortion laws in the past two years, with Alabama going so far as to pass legislation banning abortion with incredibly few exceptions. Several other states have also passed heartbeat bills similar to Louisiana’s. While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed lawsuits against many of these states to block the laws before they go into effect, the fact that laws like these are even up for debate prove that women’s health care is in danger.
Nearly 25 percent of American women will have an abortion by the time they reach 45 years old, for a variety of reasons. Some women will have an abortion because they will die if they carry to term, or the fetus has developed fatal anomalies, or they were raped, or they cannot afford to have or care for the child, or they don’t want a child right now or for many other incredibly valid reasons. All of which, by the way, are no one’s business except the woman making the decision.
Normally, a bill like this wouldn’t cause as much concern, but with the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh replacing the left-leaning Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court is now more conservatively sided. While Justice Kavanaugh has described “Roe v. Wade” as “important precedent,” and stated that he will be sure to express “his views ‘as a judge’ and not his personal opinion on a woman’s right to choose,” the recent inundation of anti-abortion laws prove that nothing is set in stone.
Admittedly, years ago, if you had asked me about my views on abortion, I would’ve pulled the, “I don’t know if I’d be able to go through with it, but I’d never stop someone from getting what they needed” card. I was naive and surrounded by a strong Catholic school administration and peers that had strong ideas about where I’d end up in the afterlife if I was pro-choice. Spoiler alert: Regardless of circumstance, it’d be hell.
After educating myself, understanding reality, listening to the hardships others face and coming to terms with the fact that I may have to one day make that choice, I don’t hesitate. I will defend mine and others’ right to an abortion to the death.
I know young mothers my age, and I applaud them for their bravery and determination in the face of adversity. While I know how deeply they love their children, they all acknowledge how difficult life can be. I am in awe of their courage — I certainly couldn’t do it. But, I am equally in awe of every woman who chooses to have an abortion. The strength they have to deal with the judgment they face is insurmountable. And they deserve better.
No matter how many women protest, how many well-known faces come forward with support or how many will die as a result of attempting an illegal abortion, there will always be those who want to police women’s bodies. Be it in the name of religion, personal belief or even the so-called “concern for women’s health,” any and all reasons to deny women the right to an abortion are weak ones.
No one wants to come out and say it, so I will. By trying to control what women can do with their bodies, you’re really trying to control women as a whole. It’s almost strange hearing the, “Don’t these conservative lawmakers understand that banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion?” argument nowadays when abortion is so blatantly under attack. “Don’t they know that women will die as a result?” They do. They just don’t care.
Elizabeth Short is a junior double-majoring in English and biology.