‘My body, my choice,’ is a phrase often used by pro-choice people. Abortions is a right for women protected by the Constitution. A woman should get the right to choose what to do with their body, no matter the viewpoint of others. (Illustration by Madalyn Rhoads) (Visual by Maddy Rhoads)
‘My body, my choice,’ is a phrase often used by pro-choice people. Abortions is a right for women protected by the Constitution. A woman should get the right to choose what to do with their body, no matter the viewpoint of others. (Illustration by Madalyn Rhoads)

Visual by Maddy Rhoads

Roe vs Wade: The teenage perspective on the current and future abortion policies

Abortion is a sensitive topic to many people. With the recent Supreme Court draft, it has been in the news even more as people prepare for what could happen to their rights to an abortion.

May 24, 2022

Everybody has their own opinion on abortion.

Some believe it is a completely acceptable form of pregnancy termination while others think that it is murder.

Roe vs Wade made abortion legal 49 years ago. Time has passed and abortions have remained an option for women who feel unable or not ready for pregnancy.

With the current leaked Supreme Court draft, all of that could change.

How would it affect women around the U.S. if abortion was suddenly in the hands of their state legislatures?

How would it affect teens who will have to live with those policies for the rest of their lives?

What is happening with abortion laws now?

A US Supreme Court draft was recently leaked, with an opinion on abortion leaning toward overruling the Roe vs Wade trial ruling made 49 years ago. This decision, if made, could have serious consequences for all women in the US.

Justice Samual Alito recently drafted an opinion on Roe vs Wade and other abortion cases and laws that, if the opinions were shared amongst other court members, would effectively overturn Roe vs Wade. The decision was leaked to the United States public through Politico in May 2022 and is not final; it could change before the final ruling is released later this year.

“‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’” Alito said in his opinion. “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. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’”

Alito argued in his draft that, although the Roe vs Wade ruling in 1973 legalized abortion, it should be illegal and is not protected specifically in the United States Constitution.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito said in his draft. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.”

Roe vs Wade made it legal for all women to get a choice on whether or not to have an abortion.

It was their choice. Their own decision to make depending upon their own personal views on abortion. 

Overturning Roe vs Wade would not automatically make abortion illegal. It would, however, give individual state governments the power to make their own laws regarding abortion. 

Currently, 26 states are already expected to ban abortion in a post-Roe vs Wade America. According to Guttmacher, nearly 40 million reproductive age women live in these states.

Trigger laws’ are laws that are unenforceable, but may gain enforceability if a certain circumstance changes.

Thirteen states already have trigger laws regarding abortion that, if Roe vs Wade is overturned, would make abortion illegal except to save the mother’s life according to CNN.

Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Arkansas currently have some of the most restrictive policies on abortions, whether it be for the length of time considered legal, severity of trigger laws currently in place, or availability of abortion clinics.

As of 2021, abortion in Texas is only legal until a heartbeat can be detected on a fetus. According to Planned Parenthood, this can come as early as six weeks through a pregnancy. 

Two weeks after a woman’s missed period.

Oftentimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

It is nearly impossible for women to obtain an abortion that fast, especially if they do not even know they are pregnant. State laws that make abortion illegal that early plan to, if Roe vs Wade is overturned, ban abortions. Restricting and banning women from getting an abortion is restricting women from a right to choose what to do with their bodies.

Texas also passed a law in 2021, the Texas House Bill 1280, that bans abortion completely and makes any form of post-conception birth control a felony 30 days after Roe vs Wade is overturned.

In Kansas, abortion is legal until 22 weeks post-conception.

The Value Them Both petition and amendment in Kansas urges people to ‘vote yes’ to ‘value them both’ on August 2, 2022, when there will be a ballot to decide the Kansas policy for abortion as decided by Kansas residents.

According to BallotPedia, “A ‘yes’ vote supports amending the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion.”

If the results show that a majority of voting-age Kansans wish to reform the current abortion policy in Kansas, additional restrictions or bans could be placed on abortions in the state. If a majority show that the state would rather keep the current abortion laws that make Kansas a safe place for abortions not only for residents, but also from surrounding states with more strict current restrictions and trigger laws, current policies in Kansas will stay the same whether Roe vs Wade is overturned or not.

If there are more ‘yes’ votes, abortion could be banned in Kansas for teens and adults seeking them.

What is the law?

Abortion in the US has been legal for nearly the last 50 years. The Roe vs Wade trial was the ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled that women have the Constitutional right to choose abortion in the Texas trial, Roe vs Wade. 

In the trial, “”a pregnant single woman (Roe) brought a class action challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws, which proscribe procuring or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother’s life,”” according to Justia.

Roe launched federal action against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County over the Texas ban on abortion unless to save the mother’s life. She used the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy that protected people’s right to make their own decisions without excessive government involvement and restriction, according to The Texas Tribune, as well as with her right to privacy protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments to argue that a woman’s right to choose is a Constitutional right.

Infographic by Nathan Wituk

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” according to Section 1 of the 14th Amendment. 

The court ruled that the Texas policy that made it illegal to recieve any abortion except to save the life of the mother, the Texas Statute, took away rights protected in the Constitution.

According to Privacy Library, “The District Court ruled that the right to choose whether to have children was protected by the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment. Further, it ruled that the Texas Statute was void for being unconstitutionally vague and it constituted an overboard infringement of the Appellant’s Ninth Amendment rights.” 

Before Roe vs Wade, it is estimated that between 20-25% of pregnancies ended in abortion according to npr.org, despite it being illegal in a majority of states. 

Whether it be healthcare providers who were willing to perform them under the table, back-alley abortions, or self induced labor, women continued to receive abortions when it was not legal.

More importantly, in 1972 (the year before Roe vs Wade was ruled), the CDC banned illegal abortions causing 39 deaths while legal accounting for 24. The year Roe vs Wade was passed, the ratio reversed, with 19 deaths resulting from illegal abortions and 25 resulting from legal. 

According to Guttmacher, 30 states banned abortion prior to Roe vs Wade. 

Sixteen more put serious restrictions on abortions, only allowing for women to get abortions if they were pregnant from rape or incest, or the mother was at risk.

Only four allowed women to obtain abortions with minimal restrictions according to Guttmacher: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and New York.

Roe vs Wade legalized abortion in all 50 US states. Safe abortion access was ruled to be Constitutional right for all women.

Deaths from unsafe abortions before Roe vs Wade made up nearly one sixth of all pregnancy related deaths according to Planned Parenthood. Now, abortion has a safety record of nearly 99%. 

Abortion+rights+are+at+stake+leading+up+to+the+August+ballot.+A+majority+consensus+of+yes+votes+will+allow+Kansas+abortions+laws+to+become+more+strict.+A+majority+of+no+votes+will+keep+abortion+legal+in+the+state.+%28Illustration+by+Madalyn+Rhoads%29

Abortion rights are at stake leading up to the August ballot. A majority consensus of yes votes will allow Kansas abortions laws to become more strict. A majority of ‘no’ votes will keep abortion legal in the state. (Illustration by Madalyn Rhoads)

A teen’s perspective

Abortion rights in the US and Kansas affect women of all ages. I am a fifteen year old girl in Kansas; these rights are important for me and will be for the rest of my life. My generation are the people that will live through changes made now; how will changing abortion laws, if Roe vs Wade is overturned, change our lives?

I was 13 when I got my first period. 

I was in eighth grade at that time.

I didn’t really think much of that fact until my mom sat down and talked to me about what it meant.

She explained to me that now that I had my period, I could get pregnant.

I already knew that, but just hearing the words come out of my mother’s mouth was when it really hit me.

I could get pregnant at 13 years old.

Even the possibility was kind of scary for me. The worry dissipated after the very first realization, but has recently come up again since the Roe vs Wade trial and ruling have been in the news more.

Going into high school I’ve had more instances to think about what would happen if I did get pregnant or if one of my friends did. 

Birth control is a part of almost daily discussion between me and my friends, whether it be for pregnancy prevention, period regulation, or acne. 

I took family studies, and contraceptives were widely discussed.  The class did research on each type and their effectiveness. We did not talk about abortion.

My teacher did not want to bring in her Planned Parenthood speaker because “‘It was too controversial.’”

Teens are taught about sex. They are taught about sexually transmitted diseases. They are taught about condoms, birth control pills, IUD’s, rings, etc. They are not taught about abortion. 

Abortion is a medical procedure. A safe, legal, medical procedure. It has been so for 49 years. Roe vs Wade made it legal nearly half a century ago.

I have had discussions with my parents about pregnancy in high school and how to responsibly handle any situation I find myself in. I don’t know what I would do if I were to get pregnant. But I want to be the one to make that choice.

Taking away Roe vs Wade does not immediately take away abortions. It doesn’t take away a woman’s right to choose. But it does take away the safeguard for this right.

With the flip of a switch, 26 states could ban abortion with the removal of Roe vs Wade. Others could further restrict it. Some could keep it legal. 

But it should ultimately be up to the woman.

It is a woman’s privacy. It is her body. It is the rest of her life that will be affected. 

Overturning Roe vs Wade will set women’s rights back half a century for many states. It would be detrimental to the United States to overturn Roe vs Wade and give states the chance to take away a basic right to privacy and choice that women deserve.

Roe vs Wade made it legal for women to choose what to do with their bodies. It made it legal for them to make their own decisions about their future. It made it safe to obtain an abortion. It made having an abortion a woman’s own personal and private decision, protected by the Constitution.

Abortions make it possible for unfit mothers or teens to have another option if they do get pregnant. 

Abortions keep babies out of foster care.

They make it so babies of unfit mothers don’t have the risk of being born with a birth defect or disability due to an unsafe pregnancy.

Legal abortions keep pregnant women safe.

Women had abortions before Roe vs Wade; they were ‘back-alley abortions’ done by people that might not be professionals in conditions that were not safe for pregnant women. In 1972, the year before Roe vs Wade was ruled, 62% of abortion deaths were caused by illegal abortions according to the CDC. The numbers immediately reversed the next year and the following decades as abortions became legal and the conditions they were performed in became safer.

 

<script>

Video by Kayla Nicol and AJ Sevier

 

Legalizing abortions saves the lives of women. 

Women who have access to safe and legal abortions, done by professionals in their field, are able to obtain those abortions and make the right decision for them in conditions that are safe for them. 

If abortions are made illegal, pregnancy termination won’t stop. It will just cause more women to do things like take over the recommended amount of vitamin C to force a pregnancy to end.

Some women choose to get abortions because they do not want a child. They feel they are not prepared for the responsibility of a child. 

If a woman does not want a child, she likely is not going to be able to or want to care for that child and give that child everything it wants and needs.

Some teen mothers are not prepared for children. Some are not financially stable. They are not able to live on their own. They are not fully mentally developed. They are not completely physically developed. Yet they do it anyway.

Teen mothers receive support from family and friends, but being the child of a teen mother entails growing up in an entirely different way. 

I know two teen mothers right now who had their babies sophomore and junior year of high school.

One of them is still with the father and has a core group of people to help her care for her child. This allows the child to grow up with a trusting relationship and with the support network needed to develop mentally.

The other is not with the father anymore. Her child is bounced between households and groups of people, which makes it far easier to care for the child, but harder to allow bonds to form and the brain to fully mentally develop.

No matter the beliefs of teen mothers, abortion is an option. It is their choice. They can have the baby or they can not. 

It is a choice that they can make based on their own personal wants, needs and lives.

If the mother chooses to have the baby and put it into the foster care system to be adopted, the child has an extreme likelihood to go through an average of seven different homes, abuse, and still be without a family when they turn 18 according to Joy Meadows.

On paper, the foster care system is the perfect solution for mothers who do not want, or cannot support, a child. However, in actuality, when only 2% of Americans adopt children, the system cannot support the ongoing stream of new children being put in foster care every day. 

There are not enough places for them to go. 

So when women get comments like ‘Why didn’t you just give it up for adoption?,’ sometimes there isn’t another option. Sometimes abortion is the best option.

I am 15 years old right now. 

Abortion has been talked about openly in my household since I was old enough to understand. It has been made clear to me from my family that if I do get pregnant, they will support me in whatever decision I make. Because it is my choice. 

It is my body that would host another human for nine months. 

It is my body that would have to give birth to a child. 

My body would deal with the sleepless nights, discomfort, cravings, kicks, Braxton Hicks, doctors visits, random swelling, size changes. 

I would be responsible for changing the diaper at midnight on a school night because it is my baby. It would be my choice to keep it and, ultimately, my responsibility to take care of it. 

Right now, at 15 years old, that is not something I am prepared to handle. 

But it is my choice. I can decide what I want to do based off what I think is the best option for me. With the current laws in place, I could save myself from a pregnancy I would not be prepared for.

Abortion bans and trigger laws currently in place are based on the idea that a baby is living as soon as the egg is fertilized. If that idea is accepted, birth control methods, such as IUD’s and Plan B pills could also potentially be illegal.

IUD’s for example work after the egg is already fertilized by making the uterine lining too thin for the fertilized egg to attach. But if the egg is already fertilized, it is already a living being according to the above statement. 

If abortion is banned in states, it is very possible that these two forms of birth control, plus others that act after the egg is fertilized, would be banned as well because the fertilized egg is living. 

The only form of birth control that would be left would be birth control pills, condoms, and other barrier or pre-fertilization methods. 

Pro-life people argue that the cell is living, which is true. When an egg is fertilized, it has the potential to form a human and is technically a living thing by the biological definition. 

A fertilized egg will turn into a living, breathing, child at the end of pregnancy; that is true.

If abortion is made illegal because it is killing something living, then euthanasia of animals, such as dogs and cats, would also have to be illegal. 

Assisted suicide would have to be illegal.

Anything that caused anything living to die would have to be illegal because once something is alive, it should get to live no matter the conditions it is living in.

The Value them Both campaign aims to ban or restrict abortion to save the life of both the mother and the child. The campaign wants to save lives physically, which is a good thing on paper. Saving the mother while bringing a baby into the world sounds idyllic. 

Being physically in this world with a child and saving the lives of two people is what the Kansas campaign is designed to do.

But having that baby could ruin the mother’s life. It could pull her out of school; force her to skip college; force her to work multiple jobs. There is so much more at stake than just being physically alive. 

A majority of the people drafting and passing these laws are not women. They do not have the same consequences of pregnancy that a woman does.

They do not get bleeding every month or endless cramping at all hours of the day for seven days of each month. 

They do not have a uterus with which to carry a baby.

I am 15. I cannot vote in the ballot in August for the abortion policy that will affect me, as a woman, and my rights, for years. 

I am not saying abortion is the only option for women. I am not saying adoption is a terrible thing. I am saying that women have options and should get the choice to make the decision for themselves if they have done their research and know what is best for them. 

Women should get that right. It should not be controlled through state legislature what women can and cannot do with their bodies. That is their decision.

My+body%2C+my+choice%2C+is+a+phrase+often+used+by+pro-choice+people.+Abortions+is+a+right+for+women+protected+by+the+Constitution.+A+woman+should+get+the+right+to+choose+what+to+do+with+their+body%2C+no+matter+the+viewpoint+of+others.+%28Illustration+by+Madalyn+Rhoads%29

Visual by Maddy Rhoads

‘My body, my choice,’ is a phrase often used by pro-choice people. Abortions is a right for women protected by the Constitution. A woman should get the right to choose what to do with their body, no matter the viewpoint of others. (Illustration by Madalyn Rhoads)

An outside perspective

Karyn Brown has had two abortions in her lifetime, both medical and surgical. She urges people to fight for women’s right to choose.

‘Just give it up for adoption.’

‘Why didn’t you just keep it?’

‘Abortion is murder’

No matter the circumstances, abortion patients hear these words regularly from people around them or individuals on the news. They are bombarded with contradictory messages from pro-choice and pro-life people and expected to deal with the comments made behind their backs about their own choices; their own opinions. 

‘My body, my choice.’

‘Abortion is a right.’

‘Bans off our bodies.’

Depending on who you are talking to, abortion is either a right all women should have or murder.

Karyn Brown, who wished to use a pseudonym for fear of her and her child’s safety, remembers her first trip to a Planned Parenthood center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

She said there was an 80-year-old woman who volunteered there and would sit down with those who were in a place where they were considering abortion or adoption. She talked to her about what to do moving forward and actually tried to help.

She wanted people to know their options.

She wanted people to know there was someone there to help them.

She didn’t ever want someone to go through what she went through.

“In the 1960s at her senior prom, she got pregnant and this is before Roe vs Wade,” Brown, a two-time abortion patient, said in reference to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that ruled abortion was a constitutional right.“This is when abortion was illegal. And her mom took her to a back-alley abortionist, someone who just performed these out of their homes that wasn’t a physician and she almost died and she actually rendered her infertile, so she was never able to have kids for the rest of her life.”

The average cost of raising a child up to the age of 18 in the U.S. is $233,610 according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Brown was 20 when she had her first child. 

She was a sophomore at Emporia State when she became pregnant. She was managing a restaurant at that time with a 4-year-old daughter.

She was 23 when she became pregnant with a second child. 

She had graduated and was working as a server and bartender with a ten year old daughter. She had recently divorced her first husband and gotten into another relationship.

Another extremely abusive relationship.

“The second one was extremely physically abusive,” Brown said. “So not to mention how terrible it would have been to have brought a child into that situation where I couldn’t even keep myself safe, let alone a child.”

Brown chose abortion as the best solution to her situation; it allowed her to support her current child and herself, get out of her abusive relationship, and live the life she wanted.

“I was young,” Brown said. “I had just gone through a divorce, and I had just started back in the dating scene…Financially there was no way that I could have afforded another child because I was 23. The person that I was with also was not a very good person and not somebody that you would’ve necessarily wanted to bring a child into the world with.”

Brown has had two abortions in her lifetime after both of her unintentional pregnancies resulting from abusive relationships. 

Eight percent of people who get abortions are in an abusive relationship according to the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health

Ninety-five percent still believe five years later they made the right decision according to the Turnaway Study and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health.

Brown is now living a stable life out of her abusive relationships with her teenage daughter; she is part of the 95% that is glad to have decided to get an abortion not one time, but twice.

“I’d be a mom of three, not of one,” Brown said. “I think financially, things would be a lot worse off. I probably would have been on some type of assistance. I wouldn’t be able to focus on and give my one daughter the things that she needs. I was already at some points in my younger life just in survival mode. I would probably still just be in survival mode if I had a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old on top of a teenager.”

Brown carefully considered all her options when she found out she was pregnant. Since she did not feel able to take care of another child at either point in her life, she felt that her options were abortion or adoption of her child. 

“I think that adoption, on paper, is a great thing,” Brown said. “I don’t think that people really think it through when they say that’s a better option than abortion. I think that in some cases, yes, if that’s what you personally choose, by all means go through nine months of being pregnant and give birth to a child; see that child; and give that child to another family. If that’s your decision, that’s your choice. Please do that. But there’s a lot more involved.”

There are over 400,000 children in the foster care system today according to Children’s Rights; 6,895 of them are in the state of Kansas according to KVC Health Systems. According to the Adoption Network, only two percent of Americans have adopted children and over 60% of the children adopted are under two months of age.

Infographic by Nathan Wituk

32.8% of foster care youth experience some form of abuse according to the National Center for Youth Law.

10.1% experience physical neglect.

9.4% experience physical neglect and abuse.

5.6% experience physical abuse.

3.7% experience sexual abuse.

4% experience sexual abuse and another form of neglect.

Before being adopted, children sometimes spend between two and five years in the foster care system, where they move homes an average of seven times, according to the Adoption Network, and are at risk of experiencing any form of abuse. Some of them find loving homes quickly, while others spend 18 years in the system without a true place to call home. 

Once children in the foster care system reach 18 years, they are officially on their own. Twenty percent of these children become homeless the minute they reach what the child welfare system calls ‘adulthood’; 23,000 kids age out of foster care each year according to the National Foster Youth Institute. That means 4,600 children become homeless each year the second they age out of foster care.

According to the National Foster Youth Institute, only 3% of foster care children go on to graduate college with a degree.

Brown felt that, after putting in time to consider her options, abortion was her best choice to give her the life she needed and to not put a child into a situation that might not allow them to live up to their full potential.

“Just look at all your options,” Brown said. “I did that too and I just chose what was best for me. Don’t let anyone talk you into one way or another. You make that choice.”

Brown had both types of abortion, surgical and medical (pill). Both types of abortion have high success rates and are extremely safe when done in the proper conditions according to Planned Parenthood.

Surgical abortions require the mother to essentially put herself into labor and push out an embryo around the size of a pinky nail. 

“It’s like the worst period you’ve ever had but times ten,” Brown said. “And then after that for two weeks is like having a really rough period too because obviously all the extra tissue that your body already started to produce in early pregnancy.”

Medical abortions are a combination of two types of medicines taken in two doses of pills, one of mifepristone and another of misoprostel, and can be done up to 11 weeks of pregnancy according to Planned Parenthood.

For Brown, the medical abortion was physically easier for her. There was essentially zero recovery time, while surgical abortions can require a longer recovery time based on how far along the pregnancy was and the amount of sedation the patient received.

Abortion in the state of Kansas is legal up to 22 weeks along a pregnancy. The 22-week mark is nine weeks into the second trimester and the baby begins to become more responsive to noise and movement outside of the mother. 

“My personal choice on abortion would be anything 12 weeks after [pregnancy begins],” Brown said. “That’s kind of when you start; it’s your third month and when you start your second trimester. Just for me personally, that’s a cut-off point. That is not a decision I make for other women, that is just my own personal decision.”

Brown supports women’s right to choose whether they want to get an abortion or not but respects that other people have different opinions on it.

“They have their views and that’s fine,” Brown said. “They want to think that a cluster of cells is a living, breathing, functioning person but I think that there’s a lot of things that bring up good points about if that is really a person and they just tend to view it that way. And they don’t tend to look at the fact that it’s essentially a parasite feeding off of you. But everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, I just wish that they had the same approach because they’re trying to take their opinion and make it the law of the land and, unfortunately, that’s going to affect a lot of women.”

Brown fears what could happen to her and all the other women who have had abortions in the past if Roe vs Wade is overturned and abortions become illegal in the 26 states predicted to ban them

“This could be scary if they take it far enough where they say ‘we’re going to look back at medical records and see people who have had them in the past and try to charge them,” Brown said. “I could essentially be charged with some type of felony for a ‘crime’ that was committed 10 years ago when it was legal, which is scary.”

Brown urges people to support pro-choice movements and keep abortions safe and legal in the United States for generations to come, and allow women to choose what to do with their bodies.

“You cannot take away a woman’s right to choose,” Brown said. “And again, if you choose to think abortions are wrong, fine, don’t get them. But you can’t tell someone else what to do. And also you’re never going to stop abortions. You’re only going to stop safe abortions and that is 100% true. That’s true. You can pull data, current data, from countries that it’s illegal and women die. Women die. That’s just plain and simple.”

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