Update: The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, paving the way for states to ban abortions. Last month, when a draft opinion of the decision was leaked, we asked Boston.com readers how they would feel if it was overturned. Readers shared what losing access to safe and legal abortions would mean to them.
After news that the Supreme Court was set to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked last week, we asked Boston.com readers what abortion access meant to them, and if they thought the court should move ahead with overturning the decision.
Ninety-two readers responded to our poll, and results were split with a slight preference for the Supreme Court upholding the decision.
“It’s not abortion protection, although it’s a part of it. It’s about women making their own choices about their bodies. Keep laws off of our bodies! Women’s rights ARE human rights,” said Annie M. from the North Shore. “It is a decision for the woman to make and lies between her, her medical team, perhaps her clergy, and her family. No woman should be forced against her will to bear a child at ANY stage in her pregnancy. Period.”
Readers in favor of overturning Roe, like Alexandra M. from North Andover, said the rights of the unborn should be protected as well.
“Abortion protections are government-sanctioned torture and infanticide,” she said. “Our house pets are more protected by far than babies in the womb.”
Lawmakers in Washington will vote Wednesday on the Women’s Health Protection Act, a move to codify federal abortion protections into law that is likely doomed to fail. Democrats lack the supermajority in the Senate to pass the law, but party leaders said they’re moving forward with the vote to create a public record of where senators stand on abortion access ahead of the midterms.
“The bill tomorrow puts everybody on the record about whether or not they believe that women are full citizens in this country and whether they are entitled to make determinations of their own bodies,” Senator Elizabeth Warren told the Boston Globe. “It’s not just symbols. This is about holding elected officials accountable.”
Some readers told Boston.com that they were concerned about what overturning Roe v. Wade would mean for other federal protections for women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. Mary from Quincy said the court should uphold the decision for this reason.
“The overturning of Roe v. Wade means to me that NO right conferred on this country in the past century or more can be relied upon, as it seems that any right not specifically mentioned in the Constitution can be overturned as “not intended by the founding fathers,” she said. “Civil rights for non-white, non-cis, non-gender-conforming people; marriage outside of one’s race, religion, or within same-sex; women’s right to vote, as well as women’s rights to almost everything outside of what was the norm in 1788. These all seem to be subject to denial since these are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.”
Sixty-one percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in “all or most circumstances,” according to research conducted by Pew Research Center in the week following the Supreme Court leak. But support for and against isn’t always as black and white as one might think. According to the study, even those that support the right to abortion have differing opinions about what, if any, restrictions should be placed on that right.
Some of the questions that influence Americans are “when an abortion takes place during a woman’s pregnancy, whether the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life and whether a baby would have severe health problems.”
Joyce from Boston, for example, said she believes the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, but that states should be careful not to “go back to back-alley medical treatments.”
“[A]ccess to abortion needs to be addressed by Congress and written into law,” she said. “They have had 50 years and many opportunities to get this done but never did. This issue has been kicked down the road and now it’s in front of us. Abortion with reasonable limits should be accessible to all women.”
For many readers who said the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, the issue of states’ rights was at the core of their argument.
“The federal government has NO role in this issue,” Chuck M. from Mashpee said. “Let each state decide its’ own fate.”
Residents of Massachusetts will have some of the strongest protections for abortion access should the court move forward with overturning Roe because the state passed comprehensive abortion rights legislation just last year. Nationwide, however, millions of people are set to lose access to safe, legal abortions. Twenty-six states are “certain or likely” to ban abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute and in recent months, several states have moved to create stricter restrictions on abortions.
As people take the streets to protest the reversal of abortion protections, Americans on both sides of the issue are reflecting on what a future without Roe v. Wade will mean for the country. Below you’ll find a sampling of responses from readers with their own reactions to the Supreme Court’s pending decision.
Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.
Do you think the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade or overturn it?
“In a country that does not provide universal healthcare for children or affordable childcare — to name just a few things — and is one of the leaders in maternal mortality in the developed world, forcing women into childbirth is outrageous and irresponsible. Those that choose to outlaw abortion are either doing so with malicious intent or are not capable of making sound decisions.” — Brenna R., Arlington
“Because as a man I will never know what a woman needs to go through. With two daughters, the choice should be theirs and not mine.” — Artur Y., Westwood
“It matters to me because I have two daughters. I have always appreciated my right to choose. While I haven’t needed to have an abortion, I have many friends who have had them for a variety of reasons. I want my daughters and their friends to have the freedom to choose. I want all women to have the freedom to choose to end a pregnancy safely and for whatever reason. Abortion is healthcare. Women deserve access to all forms of healthcare. If women are forced to carry pregnancies to term, everyone loses. Every single one of us in this society loses.” — Courtney P., Stowe, Vt.
“As someone who lost an infant, I cannot imagine anything more brutal than knowing that your baby is not viable yet having to carry that baby to full-term while strangers constantly congratulate you. There is no justice in that. Being a parent is hard and expensive and few want to pay to support social programs. Women should be able to choose the best option for themselves and their families.” — Casey, East Boston
“I am a white, upper-middle-class mother of two who has been lucky enough in life to have never needed an abortion. I had access to excellent health care and free birth control, and live in a state that protects a woman’s right to choose. Unfortunately, there are millions like me who are not so lucky — women of color, of lower incomes, without easy access to health care, and minors who are the victims of rape or incest. Women for whom carrying a pregnancy to term would cause severe complications and pose a risk to her life. … How dare those in power in this country go against the public opinion of the people, who overwhelming[ly] want Roe v. Wade upheld, to satiate the loudest few who want to send us back decades to backroom abortions that were unsafe and in many cases lethal to the mother.” — Anonymous, North Andover
“I had an abortion when I was 24-years-old. This allowed me to finish my MBA, start my career and get to a financially comfortable position where I am now ready to have children.” — Alli, Waltham
“The Supreme Court set Roe as a long-standing precedent which should be upheld. The next Supreme Court shouldn’t change what the previous court did except in rare circumstances like Dred Scott. We have to be able to rely on the Supreme Court for a degree of stability. Without it, we are done for. I do think, though, that when the court makes a controversial decision like Roe our federal legislators need to work to codify it, as I don’t believe at the end of the day that the court should be making law. That ultimately rests with our elected representatives.” — Stan, Jamaica Plain
“[Federal abortion protections] are unnecessary as a Massachusetts resident. I take no issue if other states want to govern differently. States are the laboratory of ideas. I like knowing that if I don’t like the laws in the state I’m living in, I can go to another that matches how I want to live.” — Al, Boston
“I believe abortion has been hyper normalized in Massachusetts, to the point where friends I have who are in serious relationships, including myself, have resorted to getting an abortion almost as a first reflex, without giving the matter enough thought. Later on, as we have children, we come to regret our decisions made in haste. There’s a lengthening of childhood and adolescence that contributes to this mentality. Why not support family building instead of pushing this agenda that has painful consequences for many.” — Ellie, Jamaica Plain
“[Wade] is not good law, and the issue of abortion access is one under the purview of the state, not federal, government. Further, abortion protection is not important to me. Access to sex education and contraception are, however, important. Aside from the case of rape, pregnancy is 100% preventable by behavior, and anyone who has sex, both genders, should be willing to accept the consequences.” — Rebecca, Scituate
“Abortion is killing. It’s not a personal decision nor about free choice regarding only your body. Abortion involves killing a life that has no voice in this life/death choice. There are many couples who want to adopt and would happily do so.” — Bob, Boston
“I worked at a maternity hospital and dealt with parents experiencing miscarriages and stillborn deaths, as well as very early viable premature births along with full-term births. I saw firsthand what a baby looks like up close and personal at various stages of development — including the developmental age at which some women, medical personnel, and politicians think that it is okay to abort a baby. Each baby, whether 15 weeks, 19 weeks, 23 weeks, 27 weeks, etc., looked like a baby. Period. You can rationalize the argument any way you want to support your cause, but the baby human is still a baby human. This experience absolutely impacted my feelings about abortion.” — MK, Rhode Island
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.