Youth for protecting Roe v. Wade

On May 2, a draft of a Supreme Court decision was leaked to the public, indicating the impending overturning of Roe v. Wade. The historic case, issued in 1973, allows pregnant individuals to terminate their pregnancies instead of carrying them to term. Roe v. Wade has protected safe and legal abortions for nearly 50 years.

For high schoolers, this is the first time federal power may intervene in their right to choose. Gen Z has grown up with Roe v. Wade, secure in its protections of the right to medical privacy.

What the new generartion has not escaped, however, are the often uncompassionate attacks on abortion rights. The Senate held a vote on a bill May 11 that would protect abortion. Teenagers watched as a Senate, who they had no involvement in electing, failed to pass a protection of their rights.

Without this fundamental right protected by the Supreme Court, the legality of (and access to) abortion will be left up to individual states. Some will ban it entirely. Among such bans will be abortions for those under the age of 18.

The New York Times predicted that, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, 25 states will make abortion illegal, with some not even allowing exceptions for rape and incest. These laws lack empathy for the people who will be forced to carry and give birth to the child of the person who raped them.

For young people, losing the right to terminate a pregnancy can mean losing a future. Unplanned pregnancies in minors may be especially likely in states with little to no comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives. Such pregnancies can be detrimental to young people and their future. For example, an interview with a neurologist on NPR said the human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, meaning these children are expected to be responsible for giving birth to a child when they themselves are not fully mature.

Also, abortion bans affect both individuals involved in the pregnancy. Having to financially support a healthy pregnancy is no easy task, especially when trying to attend school simultaneously. If the parents choose to keep the child, their lives will forever be impacted, and sometimes stunted. Not to mention the effect unprepared parents can have on a child. The anti-choice movement claims they are fighting for what they see as the viable lives of unborn fetuses, but they fail to consider and support the already developed lives of young people they are affecting.

The Office of Publication Affairs noted that in 2017, 28% of pregnancies ages 15-17 ended in an abortion. This number will not disappear if abortion is banned; abortions will simply become more fatal. In an attempt to protect lives of fetuses, the anti-choice movement has left people who can get pregnant to suffer, and sometimes die.

The World Health Organization reported in 2021 that “45% of all abortions are unsafe,” and “unsafe abortions are a leading — but preventable — cause of maternal deaths.” It’s true that these statistics include pregnancies around the world, which includes countries with limited access to healthcare. However, this could be where the U.S. is heading if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The reality is it will be poor communities of color affected most by this ban. ABC news said “In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44% of the population but 80% of women receiving abortions.”

It is not a new thing for the rights of people with uteruses to be debated, for their bodily autonomy to be discussed in classrooms, political settings, and at dinner tables. Young people are watching as something they believed was a fundamental right potentially disappears in front of them — and they will remember this when they are old enough to vote.

To protect the future of the country and young people everywhere and to honor the women who fought for this right, the Supreme court must uphold Roe v. Wade.