Women still have plenty of choices after Roe. Will they look at motherhood differently?

·4 min read

Let’s be frank: In just 50 years, abortion became a blunt instrument of convenience.

Every salient adult knows a fetus is an unborn life that will grow and, in a matter of weeks, be able to thrive outside a mother’s womb. To contend otherwise is mere fantasy.

In the decades of the Roe vs. Wade ruling, abortion became a way to halt this growth should mom (or dad) be unwilling or unable to raise the child. Most women who choose to have an abortion do so in their first trimester and while they are in their 20s and 30s. Less than one percent do because of rape and incest.

In the 1990s abortion rates soared but since then, they’ve steadily decreased. Over three-quarters of Americans support abortion restrictions.

The Supreme Court decision that overruled Roe v. Wade and the case that modified it, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, juxtaposes these ideas: Abortion is not as common as it was, but it still was a convenience for women who believed they needed it.

Justice Samuel Alito, in arduous detail, dismantled Roe and Casey brick by brick, layer by muddled layer. He demonstrated that the right to abortion is not explicit in the Constitution and that the idea of a viability standard — limiting abortion based on the gestational age at which babies could survive outside the womb — makes no sense at all.

The beauty in this decision lay in the trifecta it accomplishes: In more than 100 pages, it reaffirms the authority of the Constitution in probably the most controversial area of law in recent decades. It tosses out the “viability” standard, and it places into the hands of the people a point of law that always deserved to be handled via democracy, not the fiat of nine unelected people.

Anti-abortion protesters celebrate following Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
Anti-abortion protesters celebrate following Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.

Still, no amount of sound legal reasoning from the six justices who agreed to overrule Roe will be enough to persuade a significant number of Americans who believe that abortion is a right that has been taken from women. That’s because no matter how strong an argument Alito makes, abortion to many, remains a social issue, not a legal one.

It has become sacrosanct to the left, the hill progressives are willing to die on, morally. The hill upon which they will now mobilize, politically.

This has nothing to do with a woman’s ability to make decisions about her body. She always had those rights and ample choices: Contraception, abstinence, marriage, single motherhood, adoption. It’s just that abortion was an emergency exit plan if any of those choices failed.

Roe made that exit from motherhood easy, cheap, attainable and even a point of pride.

Killing an unborn fetus should have been no more of a right than killing your 5-year-old child, even if that child looked very different at 16 weeks gestation. Arguing, even now, that abortion is about the loss of a woman’s right to choose keeps her from recognizing the real issue at stake. That is the personhood of the unborn baby, with his own DNA and his right to live.

What will she do with that baby now? What will motherhood look like in a post-Roe world?

This ruling will force men and women who live in states where abortion is essentially banned to confront their own selfishness or their own abilities. If a woman in Texas becomes unexpectedly pregnant and she is married, in a stable relationship, or has ample, reliable income, she can either adjust her mindset throughout pregnancy and learn to care for and love her unwanted child or offer the baby up for adoption to any of thousands of eager families.

There will be women in Texas who genuinely cannot care for a baby and for whom unexpected pregnancy will fill them with dread and anxiety. The states that have banned abortion via trigger laws must also be willing to entertain policies to help her raise or give the child away in adoption. Here, the private sector, charitable organizations and the state must offer increasing layers of support, from paid leave and childcare policies to flexible work schedules and child support enforcement. There is work to be done.

Roe made convenient something that is not always easy but can be joyful: motherhood. Women still have choices. They’re just different ones now.

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