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Understanding Roe v. Wade

Where do we go from here?

“I am optimistic in the long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling from 50 years ago in 1973 that declared a woman's right to choose a constitutional right. Many people assume that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion when in fact, it changed the way states can regulate abortion and defined abortion as something covered under constitutional rights of privacy. It legitimized it as a woman’s human right.

In the years preceding Roe v. Wade, over 1 million illegal abortions were performed in the U.S. annually. The number of abortions performed after the ruling remained the same, although the rate of women’s death dropped dramatically.

Since it was overturned on June 24th (although it was leaked two months prior), many people throughout the country were shocked, angry, and disappointed. They have been sharing their feelings and emotions protesting via social media as well as in the workplace. We acknowledge that this is a controversial topic, and some people have strong feelings one way or the other. Regardless of where you are personally about this topic, as an organization, we recognize that some may feel differently. There are numerous factors that influence one’s thinking and conclusions about a woman’s right to choose — ranging from one’s philosophy, experiences, and culture.

What are the ramifications of their decision for women in general and the US economy as a whole? Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, “…eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and set women back by decades.”

A woman’s ability to work and advance professionally if she wants to depends heavily on her ability to control her reproductive health. Almost all 38 member countries of OECD (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), a group of advanced nations, allow women’s right to choose on request in the first trimester of pregnancy and often beyond. Global laws increasingly reflect the principle that decisions regarding a woman’s body are her decisions to make. The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was opposed by 64% of U.S. adults and was generally condemned by the international community and many foreign leaders.

The United States sets itself up as a beacon of democracy and freedom. This egregious act by the Supreme Court has set the country back by taking away one of the major strides in the women’s equality movement. There will be a heavy price for taking away a woman’s right that was granted almost half a century ago, and unfortunately, it will financially hurt the “most marginalized women” — women who are already facing economic instability and women of color.

In 2021, more than 150 economists and researchers filed a Brief with SCOTUS showing the connection between women’s access to abortion and economic opportunity. Some of the highlights of the Brief included:

  • Employment policies are woefully inadequate; women continue to face real obstacles to balancing motherhood and careers.

  • Abortion access continues to impact women’s lives measurably.

  • If Roe and Casey were overturned (even in part), travel distances to abortion providers would drastically increase, impeding women’s access to clinical abortions.

Concerns about the end of the federally protected women’s reproductive rights raise questions about what the courts may do with other milestone human rights decisions. Justice Clarence Thomas called for the Supreme Court to “reconsider” gay marriage and contraception.

Now what?

  • We have the power to elect officials to Congress and the Senate to reinstate this significant woman’s human right and continue to move the agenda forward.

  • We can donate time and resources to educating ourselves and others on what is at stake and the implications of women and gender empowerment.

  • Acknowledge and support organizations that are establishing company policies to ensure that their female employees have access to choices that have been rescinded by SCOTUS and several states.

  • Become an ally and advocate for women’s rights and equality at every opportunity.

women united for women's rights
Women in unity

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