by Stuart Hamilton
Since my full time job is being a teacher at a local Catholic high school, as soon as the supreme court document was leaked I was swamped by concerned students with tik-tok rumors and misinformation about what the overturning of Roe might mean for the general public. Here I think it’s helpful to know the talking points of the pro-choice community and how to answer them. Here are the top 5 misperceptions I’ve seen on the internet about the reversal of Roe.
1. The Supreme Court is making abortion federally illegal
FALSE: Should the leaked draft on the Dobbs vs. Jackson case end up being the majority opinion of the supreme court and Roe v Wade be overturned, this will not make abortion illegal at the federal level. Rather, the federal government will no longer be able to legislate abortion. The issue of abortion will then return to each individual state to legislate. This means states like Kentucky (which is more conservative) will more than likely make abortion illegal, but states like California will decide to fund abortion with taxpayer money. Ultimately, it will be the voters who will decide, via their elected local governance, how they want their state to function when it comes to abortion.
2. Women with ectopic pregnancies are going to die
FALSE: Even in those states with trigger laws set to make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there are exemptions for the life of the mother. However, ectopic pregnancies (the most common life-threatening situation caused by an abnormal pregnancy) are not resolved with abortions, but most commonly require a surgical procedure on the fallopian tubes which have the tragic secondary effect of losing the child. This type of procedures does not act directly upon the child, is considered an appropriate use of healthcare by the Catholic Church, and is not even offered at typical abortion facilities. Statistically, there are virtually no “life-of-the-mother” situations that specifically require an abortion to resolve. Regardless, if such a hypothetical situation were to occur, most of the laws currently in existence offer an exemption.
3. Contraception is now being outlawed
FALSE: No legislators are even hinting they want to overturn the supreme court rulings regarding the use of contraception. Indeed, most legislators indicate that a greater need for contraception education and availability will be necessary if Roe is overturned. The problem is that most women now view abortion itself as a form of contraception rather than the taking of an unborn life–for them it’s simply another means to avoid pregnancy. Although the Catholic Church views the use of contraception as morally illicit, there is no movement to reverse public policy regarding it, and no popular support even if there was.
4. This is a step back for women’s equality
FALSE: This comes from the misperception that the only reason women have equal social standing with men is because abortion affords them the ability to avoid pregnancy in the same way men do by virtue of their biological inability to become pregnant. The argument is that pregnancy is a constant threat to a woman’s ability to succeed in their career if there is no definitive means to avoid it should regular methods of contraception fail. This is an insidious lie because it demonizes an essential, unique quality of women–the ability to give life. All of the legal rights that have progressed women in society (the right to vote, the right to gainful employment and equal pay, etc.) are intact and promoted by the general public. The only thing that will change is that without abortion as a “Plan B” contraception, both men and women will be forced to consider the responsibility of their sex-lives. In many ways abortion has functioned as a set of societal blinders, keeping us from confronting the problem of sexual objectification in our culture. The overturning of Roe will finally rip those blinders off.
5. Women are being denied basic healthcare
FALSE: This lie is really about the “redefinition” of healthcare. Healthcare in the proper sense is always about helping a person’s body function as it typically should. Because a woman’s body is biologically built to foster and protect life and abortion is the taking of a human life, it is a procedure that works directly against the way a woman’s body is designed by nature. Moreover, abortion certainly runs directly against the health and well being of the baby. Simply put, abortion is not healthcare–it is a procedure that leads to the death of a human being, and exposes the woman to a whole host of complications physically and emotionally. It directly contradicts the Hippocratic oath to “First do no harm.” Understood in this sense, the overturning of Roe will not impact women’s healthcare in any way.