THE SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
By Sofia Marcelli
On the 24th of June 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States of America overturned ROE v. WADE which made abortion unconstitutional. This is the first time in American history that the Supreme Court has removed a constitutional right. 11 states have now made abortion illegal or profoundly restricted it, while 12 other states have laws that suggest their headway toward banning and limiting access to abortion. Some of these states have even outlawed abortion without exceptions for rape or incest.
Following this decision, many abortion clinics around the country have immediately closed. The number of abortions could decline because women will have to travel to another state where abortion is legal. However, most women who get abortions are poor and their chances of traveling out of state are slighter, adding to their existing limitations to access healthcare. Given the decrease in the number of abortion clinics, the ones available will be overwhelmed, reaching their maximum capacity, and won’t be able to help most women who can get there.
These women, in some cases, will have no choice but to engage in illegal and unsafe abortions that will put their lives at risk. Yet, as in most cases, the most marginalized groups of women will be those to pay the real consequences of this decision, being mostly poor, working-class, and women of color. Most of the country’s black population and a good portion of the Hispanic and Indigenous populations live in the south where most restrictions on abortion have been made.
This is obviously a huge setback to women’s rights; however, women’s rights are only part of it. This is not only a matter of regulating women’s reproductive rights, and conservatives being pro-life and wanting to invigorate religious ideologies.
This issue as with most others is a matter of white supremacy. White Americans are now more than ever frightened of losing their power, seeing the increase in diversity and the disproportion in birth rates there is between white people and people of color in the United States, as in most western countries.
According to population projections of the U.S. Census Bureau for 2020 to 2060 starting from 2030, net international migration is expected to overtake natural increase as the main population growth in the U.S. due to the aging population.
Also, the non-Hispanic White population is expected to decrease in the upcoming decades, from 199 million in 2020 to 179 million people in 2060. Their decline is given by falling birth rates and rising death rates. The population of people with two or more racial backgrounds is expected to be the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group over the next decades.
While these projections work in favor of the United States population and economic growth, racism and the fear of losing white power prevails. Same reason why there are still racially segregated communities, disparity and inequality in wealth, income, health care in education, and in the criminal justice system with a problem of mass incarceration that reaches the highest rates of incarceration among all economically developed countries of the world, affecting mostly communities of color.
Prohibiting poor marginalized women to have an abortion, and reducing their access to it, impacts so much more than just individual women, but whole marginalized communities, not allowing them to ever overcome their inequality, keeping them imprisoned in a lower social-economic status for generations to come, and allowing white supremacy to preserve.
No one could explain the reasoning behind this decision and the many existing racist policies, as Jane Elliott did in one of her interviews in 2017. Jane Elliott is an antiracist activist and educator, feminist, and LGBTQ+ advocate. Her most famous work has been her Blue eyes/Brown eyes experiment that she first subjected to her students in elementary school after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
In the interview, she exceptionally explained the real reasoning behind regulating women’s reproductive rights, by stating that in order to understand this rejection to abortion, we must first understand the racist ideology that motivates it.
She does this by mentioning the first paragraph of the book The Birth Dearth written by Ben J. Wattenberg in 1987, a member of the American Enterprise Institute (reference institute of the US neocons), who was also an advisor to various American presidents. In this paragraph, she says, he states that the main problem confronting the United States is that there aren’t enough white babies being born and that if we don’t change things rapidly, white people will lose their numerical majority, and this will no longer be a white man’s land and that in order to solve this problem there are only three things we can do.
One is, paying women to have babies, which has been done in many Western European nations for years, but the problem with this according to him is the fact that we would have to pay women of all colors and we don’t want to do that, the second thing is to increase the number of immigrants but since most of them are people of color we don’t want to do that either, therefore the third thing we can do is that of solving our birth dearth since 60% of the abortions are made by white women, keeping those fetuses alive is our only solution.
There is no need to say, that this is clearly racist. She then states in her interview that white people are frightened by becoming a numerical minority in the next 30 years because white people are aware of the atrocious and racist things, they have done against people of color to acquire and maintain white supremacy and power, and they fear they might have to pay the consequences of their actions, losing their white privilege.
This is why she says, in order for white people to get ready for the future, and to be treated well as they wish, they must treat others well in the present, because what we do in the present constructs the future. She concludes by saying that we can learn from what we have done in the past, and we better do so because those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them and that’s exactly what we are doing now, repeating past mistakes because we are not teaching them, history, social sciences, not even true geography.
What Jane Elliott said in 2017 is still true in 2022 and to the Supreme Court’s decision of overturning ROE v. WADE, and most people do not know what this decision actually means because most people haven’t been taught the real components of history that still impact the making of the current United States.
This phenomenon and white fear do not only concern the United States, but most countries of the Western world, that in recent decades have had an increase in conservative political representation and ideologies. The reason why the Supreme Court’s decision is such a terrifying event is especially the fact that it might influence what happens in many other Western countries, that have shared historical backgrounds and a shared present comeback of far-right parties.
Sofia Marcelli has graduated in Criminal Justice at Lewis University in Chicago, USA. Masters degree student in Public Politics, in the University of Chicago.