Today, the right to abortion will be stripped from 300,000 pregnant women in the USA.
A 6-3 Supreme Court vote held this afternoon overturned Roe v Wade, the 1973 legislation which established the constitutional right to choose.
Here is what will happen now: Abortion will – has, perhaps already, at the time of publishing – become illegal in 13 states due to “trigger laws” which were in place before the vote was held.
Nearly half of American states are expected to outlaw or severely restrict abortion now that the Supreme Court has set the precedent.
The precedent is this: Women do not have the rights to their own bodies. Their government does.
What was a nightmare speculation has become reality for millions overnight.
And 300,000 of them are already pregnant. Perhaps happily. Perhaps, tragically, with miscarriage in their future – which is medically indistinguishable from an early abortion.
Or perhaps these women have plans to terminate; tonight, tomorrow, or next week. The reasons why – rape, health risks, addiction, finances, lifestyle – are wide-ranging, and never clear-cut.
Now, regardless of their reasons, these women will be classed as criminals.
Roe v Wade is Scotland’s issue too
And this is not an exclusively American problem. The ripples of discontent have already reached this side of the Atlantic.
In Scotland, the right to choose is still legally protected – but thinly.
Abortions here are not technically legalised, only decriminalised. That distinction is indicative of our cultural hesitance to fully enshrine a woman’s right to her own body in law.
We have seen women being harassed, verbally abused and threatened by pro-life activists outside abortion centres in the past year, while accessing a health service that they have the right to use.
Emboldened by the actions of the Supreme Court today, these groups stand to grow more vehement in their positions.
This will only lead to pain. Outlawing abortion will not put an end to abortions. It will only put an end to safe abortions.