Many people are in a state of disbelief in Florida and across the country with the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. Emotions have run high on both sides, whether you support the right to choose or the right to life. The overruling of Roe v. Wade now gives states the ability to make their own laws about abortion, unobstructed by federal law. Currently, abortion is legal in 35 states and soon will be illegal in 16. Florida does not have a “trigger law” that would put an abortion ban into effect immediately with this ruling, but the Florida Governor signed a bill in April of this year that will make it illegal for a physician to perform an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, reducing it from 24 weeks.
As a family law attorney and a woman, Roe v. Wade and the “Right to Choose” has been part of my social conscious, like the right to vote, for a very long time.
The History of Roe
Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial legal decisions in history. It was brought by “Jane Roe,” who in 1969 became pregnant with her third child but was not allowed to obtain an abortion in her home state of Texas because abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother’s life.
The attorneys for this case filed a lawsuit in the U.S. federal court alleging that Texas’s abortion laws were unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in their favor and declared the relevant Texas abortion statutes unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court then issued a 7–2 decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment provides a fundamental “right to privacy,” which protects a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision in 1973.
The protected right for women to obtain a safe abortion, if they choose to, has helped countless women over the years and has empowered many women to plan their careers, the timing of their families, and how they want to live their lives.
The Impact Moving Forward
The weight of this recent Supreme Court decision will be felt most by minority women who already face societal disadvantages. Statistics show that Black and Latino women who live in conservative states already have difficulty accessing healthcare. It is unsettling that this rollback of their rights aligns with the continuous disparity in education, family planning, access to high-quality medical support, and the plague of generational poverty in these underserved communities.
A 50-year legal precedence has been reversed, and the undoing of reproductive freedoms sets our Nation up for negative, long-term cultural consequences, exposing younger generations to perpetual health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth and disintegrating mental health. If abortions are outlawed, minority women who often live in high-need areas will likely have the most challenging time traveling to different states where abortions are legal. When they cannot pursue abortion, they will struggle to afford care for the child and higher education, and face limited opportunities. In some cases, leaving an abusive partner will be more difficult and dangerous.
Even though it is a difficult time, I still love the law and respect it for its ability to solve complex issues and provide solutions for societal good. There is a long road ahead, but my resolve to balance the scales of justice in family law and throughout our community remains strong.