From the Left



A World Without Roe

Susan Estrich on

I remember the world before Roe. I was young, but old enough. I saw girls "get in trouble," meaning they got pregnant and had to drop out of high school and give up their dreams. They were sent away, somewhere, and we never saw them again. That was the world without Roe.

In college, it was a little better. Abortion was legal in New York, as it no doubt will be, but it was illegal (and so was birth control if you weren't married) in Massachusetts, where I went to school, so we would take up a collection for bus fare. But there was always the possibility of bleeding later, and we would debate whether it was safe to go to the local hospital.

Or just hope the bleeding would stop. That was the world without Roe.

The sad truth is that even with Roe, the battle over access to abortion has been won by those who would deny that right to all women. But unable to deny middle-class women in blue states their rights, they have focused on laws and practices that effectively restrict, if not eliminate, the right to choose for young and poor women in red states. Statistics for years now have shown that in almost half the counties in America, there are no facilities providing abortions to women in the first trimester of pregnancy.

It will be far worse in a world without Roe. It will take more than courage to provide necessary medical care to women. You should not have to be a hero to be a gynecologist, much less be willing to risk imprisonment to help a desperate woman.

There is a cruel irony in the world without Roe. Rich women in big cities in blue states won't know the difference. The women we will be forcing to have children won't be women with access to private doctors or women who can afford a day trip to a blue state. Those women, and the men in their lives, will be just fine, thank you. For them, this is just a theoretical issue.

No, the women and men for whom this will be life and death are those in the worst position to be parents, the ones with neither resources nor political clout, no power in the system. The younger, the poorer and the less educated you are, the more likely you are to pay the ultimate price of a world without Roe. These are the women who are already at risk of being the last to realize they are pregnant in the first place (teenage periods are notoriously irregular), let alone know what to do when they discover they are, let alone know where to go -- in another state, no less.

So, in a world without Roe, they will risk their lives to avoid being parents -- make abortion illegal and there will be back alleys and coat hangers -- or be forced to bear children they cannot and will not be able to take care of.


Exactly why would anyone do that?

Why is it in anyone's best interest to bring children into the world who are not wanted and will not be cared for?

Why would you force a woman like me, a rape victim, to bear the child of her rapist?

The Supreme Court's legitimacy has been badly damaged by this leak. Whoever leaked it was willing to sacrifice some of that legitimacy to ensure that none of the five change their votes. But it makes the Court look "political" in the worst sense, just as Bush v. Gore did, and that is its own tragedy. But it is one of the Court's own making -- and of former President Donald Trump's making. His presidency lives on.


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