Commentary: Abortion Bans Are Anything But Pro-Life

by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief

For almost 50 years, people have heavily relied on the holding in Roe v. Wade to make the decision about whether or not to have a baby. As the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision, “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Photo by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief.

MAY 2022 — Abortion is currently legal everywhere in the United States. However, it appears that won’t be true for long. According to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in February, at least five of the court’s justices have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing the right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming that right.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” wrote Alito. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

He went on to state, “Roe was egregiously wrong,” and demonstrated that the court is looking to reject Roe’s legal protections.

It is unclear if the draft represents a final opinion, as justices have previously changed their views during the drafting process. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.

If the Supreme Court overturns the nearly 50-year-old precedent granted by Roe’s abortion rights ruling, access to abortion will become a state-by-state issue, which would be a nightmare scenario.

An NBC News analysis of Center for Reproductive Rights data shows that 23 states would institute abortion bans. “Trigger laws,” or laws that would go into effect banning abortions when Roe is overturned, are on the books in 13 of those states. A second abortion-rights advocacy group, the Guttmacher Institute, counted as many as 26 states considered certain or likely to ban abortion ​​based on laws passed before and after Roe, in the event it was overturned.

In Ohio, abortion rights would likely be eliminated if Roe were overturned. Governor Mike DeWine has signed multiple horrific bills to ban abortion as early as six weeks gestation, require aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated, prevent medication abortions, and add rules that could shut down two Southwest Ohio abortion clinics. Additionally, a bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly would ban doctors from performing medication or surgical abortions, instituting a fourth-degree felony for violators.

Pictured is a sign from a May 5 protest in support of reproductive rights hosted by Kent State Univerity’s Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Since the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, protests have sparked all across the country, with many being hosted on college campuses. Photo provided by Jana Stone, a Kent State freshman.

Access to safe abortion services is a human right. Forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy or to seek out an unsafe abortion is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. Furthermore, denying someone abortion care has devastating and lasting consequences for the pregnant person, as it can jeopardize their health, economic well-being, and ability to determine their future.

Restricting abortions does nothing to reduce the number of abortions that people have; it only forces people to seek out unsafe abortions. Alternatively, pregnancy carries more significant risks than abortion does. A 2021 research study predicted that abortion bans would lead to a 21 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths.

People will die if Roe is overturned, which is far from the “pro-life” stance that opponents of abortion often take. According to NPR, before Roe, anywhere from 200,000 to 1,000,000 illegal abortions took place each year. A majority of the Supreme Court will have blood on their hands.

Those most harmed by these decisions will continue to be people of color, people in rural areas, young people, immigrants, and low-income individuals, who face systemic barriers to medical care. People living in areas considered “hostile” towards abortion would likely have to travel to a state with laws protecting abortion, which is highly inaccessible. Wealthy individuals will always have access to abortion, so ending Roe is an attack on the autonomy of the poor among many others.

In the past, justices have been hesitant when overturning a precedent, and usually only after public opinions toward the subject had changed. However, a majority of the American people support abortion rights. According to a January CNN poll, “nearly 70 percent of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.” Despite this issue being seized by vocal extremists, the numbers are certain; people support legal access to abortion.

With the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, one thing has been made terribly clear: the overturning of abortion rights is just the beginning. Alito’s reasoning for overturning Roe is simple. Since the Constitution doesn’t mention the word “abortion,” any claim that there is a constitutional right to one must show that legal abortions have been “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions.”

Roe’s logic hinges on a person’s right to privacy. Overturning Roe could also undermine other rights to which Americans have grown accustomed, such as access to contraceptives and gay marriage, which also hinge on a right to privacy.

Even though the word “privacy,” like the word “abortion,” does not appear in the Constitution, justices have held the stance that it could be inferred from the text. Even if Alito is correct that legal abortion is not “deeply rooted” in our culture, he ignores the fact that women were denied nearly all rights we now take for granted for much of history.

Obviously, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, because it does not mention women. It was written by a group of all white and mostly wealthy men, who weren’t concerned with reproductive rights or any rights for women. Over the past century, the United States has rejected the worst of the founders’ beliefs and strived to respond to the needs of a changing society, either through constitutional amendments or modern interpretations of the text they created. So, why is abortion any different?

Overturning Roe is not about protecting human life; it is about control. In brazenly ignoring 50 years of its own precedent and the will of the American people, this draft ruling would destroy the legitimacy of the court. At best, abortion would only become inaccessible to those living in restricted areas. However, the more likely outcome would be an increase in maternal mortality and an influx of unwanted children. I truly hope that I am wrong. Everyone should have the right to decide what happens to their body. It’s that simple.

Abortion bans are not pro-life. They are pro-poverty, pro-inequality, and pro-cruelty.

General Interest Opinion Politics

Opinion: Critical Race Theory Is Not The Enemy

People of Color Are Not Background Characters in U.S. History

by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief

JANUARY 2022  Too often, people attempt to sanitize and erase the uncomfortable parts of history. Conversations about systemic oppression are often ignored in schools and, in some cases, banned. For example, Arizona teachers were told they could face a $5,000 penalty if they allowed classroom discussions on “controversial” topics, such as racism. In Texas, teachers were advised to include books that offer opposing viewpoints of the Holocaust in their curriculum. Educators are being asked to reason with some of history’s greatest atrocities in an attempt to provide both sides of an issue. How does one show diverse a perspective of the Holocaust or slavery?

Critical race theory (CRT) is the latest topic to be banned from classrooms. As a complex legal theory, CRT states that “U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race,” according to the Brookings Institution. Opponents, however, have seized upon the phrase to describe anything they view as an intrusion of equity and inclusion into our education system. Despite popular belief, critical race theory is taught primarily in college-level courses. According to a survey conducted by the Association of American Educators, 96 percent of kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers said their schools did not require them to teach critical race theory.

Eight states have outlawed the teaching of CRT, a concept they believe will negatively influence their K through 12 students. In Ohio, House Bills 322 and 327 were presented to the House State and Local Government Committee. The bills seek to ban “divisive language” about the role of racism in American history and withhold funding from schools that act against it. The bans of critical race theory from the classroom are attempts to avoid the responsibility to depict historical and current racial inequities accurately.

Nearly 20 states have introduced or plan to introduce legislation banning concepts related to critical race theory. The legislation bans discussions about topics ranging from unconscious bias and privilege to discrimination and oppression. Additionally, opponents of CRT are hoping to stop the teaching of books that explore anti-racism. Photo by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief.

Topics people are calling critical race theory is simply acknowledging the fact that this country’s origins are rooted in prejudice. Politicians are framing discussions of these so-called “divisive concepts” as an attack on students when in reality, talking about America’s true history would only help them. The same legislators poorly attempting to redefine education standards can’t even define critical race theory or name the scholars behind it. Instead of educating themselves, they have manufactured a fight to keep accurate history out of schools because it might make certain students “feel bad.” If someone feels attacked after hearing about the racist history of their ancestors, they should do some self-reflection, not blame their history teacher.

As a student, I worry about the future of education. Will our country reach a point where people no longer learn about the Trail of Tears or Jim Crow Laws because they are deemed too controversial? At Bio-Med Science Academy, multiple teachers have told me they would quit their jobs if legislation passes that undermines their ability to educate students effectively. If good teachers leave, who will fill their place? Efforts to mask the events of the past hurt students and teachers alike, further weakening the educational system.

Concepts students learn in their classrooms greatly influence how they interact within society. Rather than preparing teachers to equip students with the necessary resources to navigate the world, politicians are preventing progress. Bans against CRT deny white students the opportunity to grapple with our country’s complex history. In addition, it subjects students of color to an educational experience that does not fully acknowledge their existence. Without addressing it in the classroom, some students will never have the skills or the context to help them understand why disparities exist between groups of people.

Critical race theory is not the enemy. The censorship of history only limits students’ exposure to inquiry and critical thinking. Teaching accurate history means teaching the truth. If the truth is rooted in racism, systemic oppression, and atrocities, then it needs to be shared.                    

People of color are not background characters in U.S. history, nor do we exist to perpetuate a false narrative. We are essential to the American story and deserve to have our accurate history told.

General Interest Opinion Politics