Illustration by Nina Walker

The Fear of Losing Reproductive Rights

By Lauren Galvan

The war on reproductive rights has been an ongoing debate for decades now. However, the time has finally come when we must face the reality of it possibly getting overturned. Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision from 1973 that helps protect a women’s right to an abortion and privacy, is currently under fire with serious talks of it being overturned sometime between May and July of 2022. But, what does this mean for the future of reproductive rights in the U.S.?

“It’s a very scary thing,” Juana Garcia, a political science major and women’s gender and sexuality studies minor, said. “If it were to get overturned, it would be up to each state to choose if abortion would be legal or not because it is a federal law.”

States would have the option to make it a crime to get an abortion, or even assist someone with getting an abortion, according to Garcia. Of course, states could also decide to uphold this decision and continue to allow this reproductive right. Garcia is not only involved in politics on the Long Beach State University campus, but she is also an activist for reproductive justice and social justice. In fact, she has fought for the right of women to have access to the abortion pill on CSU and UC campuses. According to Garcia, we won’t see much of a change in California, however, we might see an influx of people moving to the state and to other states that choose to uphold abortion rights.

Although California will stay the same, a handful of states have already begun banning abortion and criminalizing those who get one. In Texas, a woman was recently arrested for having a “self-induced” abortion, however, it does look like the prosecutor is going to drop the case. Not only that, but Oklahoma has just passed a law that is described as a “near-total ban” on abortion. This means that those who get or try to have an abortion could face up to 10 years in prison for their actions or be punished with a $100,000 fine. “Prior to having Roe v. Wade, abortion had been illegal throughout the U.S. It was criminalized, and there was a huge increase of back alley self-induced abortions,” Garcia said. “A lot of women were dying during these procedures because they didn’t have the proper equipment and care.”

But, the question is, why now? Why, after all these years, is Roe v. Wade getting overturned in 2022? According to Garcia, she believes it is because of who the supermajority of our judges is. There is a higher number of conservatives, and they are finally in a place where they can win this battle.

“The people in office are impacting women, but those making these laws are men,” Garcia said. “So, how can a man in office make a law that they don’t understand because it isn’t about their bodies? I just don’t understand.”

Over the years, women have been fighting tooth and nail to keep their reproductive rights alive, whether it be through sharing their personal stories or just marching the streets shouting for everyone to hear their pleas and demands. What can the people do to help? How can women and allies get their point across? According to Diana Fix-Mercy, a senior at LBSU majoring in women’s gender and sexuality studies, getting gruesome might be what we have to resort to.

“I think it is a double-edged sword. Many times, you can kind of appeal to people’s sensibilities and emotions,” Fix-Mercy said. “We live in a society where you hear horrible things like that on the news every time you turn on the TV. So, a lot of people have become desensitized to those stories. So, we either need to become even more gruesome and even more shocking, or we need to try a different tactic.”

Even though Fix-Mercy believes that using these stories gets sympathy and has helped appeal to the pathos of people, Garcia doesn’t feel the same way. Garcia believes that we shouldn’t have to resort to sharing personal stories in order to decide what women want to do with their bodies.

“I feel like it shouldn’t have to come down to people showing vulnerability,” Garcia said. “I feel like it should just be up to people to have a choice. No woman is pro-abortion. No woman wants to go out and be like, ‘let’s murder a bunch of babies.’ Nobody wants that.”

With the decision right around the corner, and with more and more states deciding to place strict bans on abortion, it makes sense that women are scared for the future of reproductive rights in the U.S. However, a good amount of states are also making abortion even easier to access, by making it cheaper and allowing abortion pills to be obtainable. Although the future isn’t looking too bright, there are always going to be people out there fighting for women’s rights. Of course, the fear is hard to overcome, but at least we know who is on the front lines of this war.

“It should be up to every person to decide,” Garcia said. “Even if you personally choose to not do it, that doesn’t mean that you should be against people having a choice. You can be against it, but you don’t need to take away a person's right to choose.”