Roe v Wade, a landmark verdict which altered the prospects of thousands of women, thrived under previous Democratic governments. Unlike other healthcare services in the US, which has been protected and subsidized by federal funding, the altercation over the moral implications of abortion has reduced the financial support it receives from the US government.
The conflict over pro-life and pro-choice in the past has been heated and occasionally brutal. While former President Barack Obama publicly proclaimed his unwavering support for women to control their bodies, people on the other side of the aisle have resisted such declarations. For example, in a Wichita, Kansas church, an abortion service provider, George Tiller, was shot and killed by pro-life protestors in 2009. 1973 was the turning point in the debate over this, with the Supreme Court, on January 22, 1973, recognizing a woman’s right to an abortion. Before the ruling, though, restive gynaecologists flouted abortion bans and carried out coveted procedures in the shadows, fulfilling -- without the protection of the law or the benefits of sterilized abortion centers to provide a safer place for abortions to happen -- consumer demand which cannot be overlooked. Even since Roe, though, the debate over abortion has continued being catapulted into the limelight of political discussions and debates.
In the most extreme cases, citizens of some states reduce their votes for candidates to the single issue of abortion, with Texas being the most prominent example of this.
The incumbent President, Donald Trump, is on the record as being pro-life and is adamant that abortion is egregious behavior. He advocates for a near-total abortion ban and has signed bills to curtail federal funding for abortion centers such as Planned Parenthood. In his attempts to sabotage abortion clinics by imposing stricter regulations, he has also claimed that ‘women should receive punishments for abortions’ in March, 2016 (see source 1). As a side note, readers should acknowledge that Trump was once proudly pro-choice, when he used to be a big Democratic donor. With Evangelicals being an essential voting bloc for Trump, it’s no wonder that anti-abortion has been such an integral position in his campaign and presidency.
Some Evangelicals vote for him solely for his stance on abortion, regardless of his other policies, or the arguable hypocrisy attached to voting for someone with dozens of sexual assault claims against him. This is why Donald Trump strives to enforce anti-abortion regulations, extending his clout to pro-life supporters.
Trump & Roe v Wade
With the presidential election in the balance, Trump is trying to secure votes by appointing a new Supreme Court Justice in replacement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than two months before the election. Of course, this is in stark contrast to what he and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel said was unacceptable when former President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat when a few months of his stint in office were left.
As a Conservative and a Notre Dame Law Professor, Barrett has excoriated abortion. Although she claims that Roe v Wade won’t be overturned, her nomination secures a conservative-originalist supermajority in the Supreme Court, which decides a deluge of cases, due to long-standing American Judicial Supremacy.
The impact of this will be deep-rooted. For one, Supreme Court Justices serve for life, meaning that Barrett will shape the law for decades to come. On the docket of the Supreme Court are an upcoming case about abortion (Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), which may coerce patients to undergo unnecessary surgery before abortion, and the abolition of Affordable Care Act, which expands Medicaid to the working poor with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (NCBI).
The Economist has already predicted a 67% chance of winning for the Democrats in the Senate, many pundits are comfortable -- even more so than in 2016 -- that Donald Trump will lose the Presidency, and there is almost no chance that the Democrats will lose the House. Even if Democrats hold a government trifecta, however, with Barret on the Supreme Court, the last branch of government would be held by conservatives.
Donald Trump’s white supremacist tendencies further beleaguers women’s access to abortion facilities, especially those in the African American community. Under the regime of a leader who is both racist and sexist, disparities that black women face in seeking out abortions are further exacerbated. According to the Economist, black people are nearly eight times as likely to be poor as whites in the US, with the implication being that it is a lot more arduous for black women to access abortion services. In the past, before abortion was legalized, rich, white Americans would receive abortion services in nations such as Switzerland. For indigenous and black women, of course, this was absurd. The inability to access abortion does not just end here – raising a baby sometimes costs way more than a family can get ahold of. In 2020, a racialized income gap still pervades in the US, and the possible annulment of the Affordable Care Act may prove to be yet another onslaught for black residents living under the poverty line.
The impacts of Donald Trump’s Presidency on abortion will outlast his stint in office, even if he leaves next year. He has made lives more miserable for women, putting their futures and constitutional rights to abortions at risk
In the throes of the Trump presidency and the potential appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, abortion is likely to be more restricted. Currently, there are 7 states with just one abortion center, and circumstances herald that this number is likely to rise. Roe v Wade, as Barrett has said, will not be completely killed – but life will be drained from it bit by bit.
This article was written in October, before the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett.