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Every Woman Should Have A Choice. They Will Not Stop At Roe.


Written by Rev. Dr. Allison Lee, Social Justice Editor, The Star Of Zion

Every woman should have a choice. They will not stop at Roe.

Over the last few months, I have pondered what I would - and even could - say regarding the controversy surrounding the reproductive rights of women on this platform. I have waited to see what official statement would be posted by our denomination. I have followed the news, re-read court documents, and scrolled by many social media posts. I have attempted to process what it means to strip women of every age, faith, socioeconomic status, and circumstance of the right to choose. In a country where: maternity leave is a shell of what it should be and paternity leave is not normalized, Black and Brown children are disproportionately represented in the foster care system, “freedom” is a deluded notion, and women often (though definitely not always) shoulder the responsibility of child-rearing. I am sitting with the reality that the politically charged decision of overturning Roe v. Wade which deals with the aftermath left behind by the immediate past President of the United States in his choosing of appointees for Supreme Court Justice. In the dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor stated, that the court “…reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this court has changed.” I have and continue to wrestle with the reality that in 2022 – regardless of the fact that 55% of Americans are pro-choice, according to the recently conducted Gallup poll - the highest court in the United States of America has determined that women in this country are not allowed federal protection pertaining to exercising autonomy over their bodies in all ways – specifically regarding reproductive health.

Every woman should have a choice. They will not stop at Roe.

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States officially overturned Roe v. Wade - which was the landmark court ruling that for the last almost 50 years has granted the constitutional right to an abortion. This ruling places the power of women’s reproductive rights back into the hands of states which will mean that in some places a pregnancy can be terminated, while in others women would have to carry to full-term. This decision is harmful because outside of the attack on bodily autonomy, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is likely to disproportionately affect Black and Brown women with abortions taking place among more than 50% of women of color according to research shared by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This will also affect women who live in states with a total ban; they will likely be required to travel for services that they should be able to access within the boundaries of where they live. If states that traditionally fall more to the conservative side continue to completely ban access to abortion, the rights of women within these borders rests entirely upon where they live. Since we know that desperation due to lack of access often overrides safety (and understandably so), what of the women who are without resources to travel to other states, but for reasons that we do not need to know of need to have an abortion anyway? What of doctors who have to choose between possibly losing their license or providing healthcare to a woman in need? In no way does this seem equitable; in fact, we know that it is not. This decision intensifies the healthcare disparity within the United States in a way that many are struggling to see a fix for.

Every woman should have a choice. They will not stop at Roe.

In addition to all women waking up with one less right than was available on June 23rd, the rollback of Roe v. Wade sets a dangerous precedent for what is possibly to come. In the opinion penned by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and supported by Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch, Alito states,

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

If the argument from the Supreme Court of the United States is that the right to an abortion is not one that is included in the Constitution, what does that say about other rights (substantive due process, the national right to contraception, marriage equality) that have since been granted? What of a country bound together with a Supreme Court that is continuously more out of touch with the people whose decisions it greatly affects? What of a people whose country was not founded on the premise of freedom for all and even now in the most technologically advanced age and mentally, physically, and emotionally aware time continues to regress instead of progress?

Every woman should have a choice. They will not stop at Roe.

In an effort to provide some sort of crisis management in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, President Joseph R. Biden signed an Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services on July 8, 2022. While it will not reverse the damage caused by the overturn of Roe v. Wade, it is a vital piece when it comes to seeking to mitigate the effects that are already being seen by:

· Expanding access to contraception, access to abortion, and other reproductive services,

· Clarification regarding the right to emergency abortion care,

· Launching of a public awareness initiative to provide up-to-date information regarding reproductive rights and options,

· Seeking to ensure the safety of patients, providers, clinics, and pharmacies,

· Providing legal assistance to people who are *lawfully seeking abortion, and

· Protection of patient privacy.

This Executive Order is the first step in finding ways to help in light of the recent decision.

Every woman should have a choice. They will not stop at Roe.

Hear me clear when I say that whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, I did not come to argue. I am clear in my belief that women should have the right to make their own decisions regarding reproductive care. The fact of the matter is that one does not have personally want or agree with something in order to not stand in the way of other people taking part. I could get down into the nuances, one being that I do believe that there should be a limit to the week at which an abortion can be performed, but I did not come to deal with that either. I did come to speak on the detriment associated with women being hindered from making decisions for themselves and doing so safely. I did come to list the 9 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia) who have completely banned abortion. I did come to note that there are states with trigger laws that are likely to take effect soon. Although the church’s role in this is an entirely separate piece, I also came to raise that there are churches and pastors that have been attacked for speaking out about women having the right to choose. Last but not least, I did come to state the importance of paying attention to this ruling being the tipping point for more like it to come.

Every woman should have a choice. They will not stop at Roe.


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