If you were to get into a car accident tomorrow and were in need of a kidney transplant to save your life, would the doctors be able to mandate that a compatible donor give you the needed organ? The answer is no. Bodily autonomy in the field of medicine is valued above most everything else and no person is required to give up their autonomy to assist another person—even in life-and-death scenarios. So why would we require pregnant individuals to give up their bodily autonomy for the sake of an embryo or fetus that may or may not even be classified as human?
The recent reproductive restrictions put in place in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi threaten the well-being and lives of hundreds of thousands of people in those states who deserve access to safe abortions. With a conservative majority now in the Supreme Court, the goal of these laws is, in part, to lead up to the repeal of Roe v. Wade (1973), which would open up the possibility of nationwide abortion bans. However, this is not what most Americans want—a July 2018 Gallup poll found that 64% of Americans would like the ruling to stay in place. In addition, 80% felt that abortion should stay legal in cases such as rape or incest and many of the new restrictions lack these exceptions. Considering the gulf between public opinion and public policy here, direct action is more important than ever.
We recommend that those who are interested in learning more take the time to read over the judicial opinions of Roe v. Wade (1973) as well as Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992.) Taking the time to understand the issue from a legal perspective will be helpful for everyone, regardless of the opinions they hold. As emotional as it is for people of all beliefs, what matters (or what should matter) to legislatures and the Supreme Court is the legal arguments—the way in which the Constitution is interpreted. The rights of those who are affected are at stake. Though there are medical and ethical concerns involved, the question that the Supreme Court must answer is simple: does the right to privacy, as inferred from the Bill of Rights, extend to a person’s relationship with their doctor? While the question is a simple one, it opens a whole can of worms and introduces a slew of other questions that must be considered. Does the state’s interest in protecting human life bend more towards pregnant people or toward collections of cells? Where does the line get drawn, legally?
For those seeking assistance in the matter, Professor Emeritus of Government Minoo Adenwalla has an in depth understanding and background in the legal arguments.