OPINION: Roe v. Wade affects more than just women

The right to abortion is an intersectional issue



Codifying Roe v. Wade would protect women of color and LGBTQ+ people.

ANNABELLE PEPIN, Evergreen columnist

Last month, the exposure of the draft decision to overturn the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade was brought into the public eye, leaving women in fear of losing their reproductive rights. 

But marginalized groups, such as women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community, are even more affected by this decision than other demographics. 

The question of how this affects women of color more than others has a simple answer: women of color are more likely to live in states with more restrictive laws on abortion, due to the racial demographics of areas where anti-abortion legislation is so prevalent. 

Voter suppression is, unfortunately, alive and well in America. Women of color got the right to vote 45 years after the 19th amendment passed in 1920, giving them suffrage in 1965. 

This frustrating reality stripped women of color of their voice when it came to their reproductive rights and the freedom that our country was founded upon. 

Even with the right to vote, however, not all votes are created equal. Gerrymandering, an unfair geographical concept of dividing and manipulating electoral districts with the intent to create advantages for specific groups of people, is still used today to influence voting. 

A prime example of this practice is in Texas. In the 2020 census, it was revealed that the population of people of color grew by 90%, but when the electoral districts were drawn out, this percentage was not equally distributed to reflect the state’s diversity. This leaves districts with 90% people of color, like many others, with an unfair advantage for their right to democracy, due to their size-per-capita. 

People in these small areas have a higher likelihood to vote in a progressive sense, but their votes are not weighted as heavily as those in larger districts that have a more conservative majority.

In the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned, and, later down the road, people need to vote to fight for reproductive rights, the more conservative areas with higher population density and views aligning with the overturned decision would win the vote, regardless of the actual majority. This is because, through gerrymandering, their votes are not all created equal.

The saying “their vote doesn’t count,” is the reality for people of color in these areas because they are drowned out by the opinion of the gerrymandered majority. 

This corrupt practice leaves women of color in these areas not only with less of a democratic voice but also with fewer resources and funding due to restrictive and racist policies, resulting in higher poverty rates. 

It is almost like a domino effect: a woman living in the South is unable to have a child at the time she gets pregnant because of poverty resulting from the racist and oppressive policies in her area, but she is also unable to receive the treatment she needs because of the same policies.

She may need to travel to a state where abortion is more accessible to get the help she needs. However, due to the poverty cycle, she might not be able to afford the transportation or the procedure. 

“Someone who has a reason to abort a child should never have to go to a different state to have a procedure done. This ultimately goes down to a women’s rights and class system issue,” said Emma Downs, sophomore sports medicine major.

Poverty is a difficult cycle to break. To be a woman faced with the decision to choose between keeping a child to raise in conditions they feel unfit, or to be ridiculed for choosing not to have the baby, is an extremely hard decision in any sense. 

Even worse, in the event that Roe v. Wade were overturned, it would not just affect women living in conservative-leaning states.

As students living and studying on a campus bordering Idaho, a state that supports the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision, we would be exposed to a new reality in the governmental system and clearly see the difference between WSU and University of Idaho cultures. 

“It would be easy as Washington citizens to sit back and let this happen because the decision technically does not directly affect us, considering our state laws protect us,” said Rebecca Jones, attorney and retired federal administrative law judge for Washington state. “But, it’s the bigger picture and broader implications that really do affect us, including contraceptive rights, same-sex marriage, but even interracial marriages as well.” 

Interracial marriages are protected by Loving v. Virginia, a 1967 Supreme Court case; as is the right for married couples to purchase contraceptives without government restrictions by Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Indiana Sen. Mike Braun have openly opposed these court cases, according to MSNBC. Braun voiced his opinion in an interview that supported the overturning of Loving v. Virginia on top of Roe v. Wade, which would leave interracial couples fighting for their rights as well. 

Members of the LGBTQ+ community already have a harder time accessing resources, so to be denied care based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is a fear that would seem irrational. Unfortunately, it may be on the horizon if Roe v. Wade, Loving v. Virginia or Griswold v. Connecticut are overturned. 

According to NBC, trans men and non-binary individuals are affected as well, considering if they do not feel fit to have a child or even be pregnant in general they do not have a say in the decision to control their bodies. 

Contraceptive rights, same-sex marriages and respect for gender identities outside of the binary are unenumerated rights, meaning they are not explicitly written, but inferred by implied written laws.

These are affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the opposition these senators hold because they are implied under this decision. 

A common argument in line with those who do not support same-sex marriages and the right to an abortion is religiously motivated. Many of the extreme states that would support overturning the decision are located in the Bible Belt of the U.S., which is typically thought to include the states between Oklahoma and South Carolina, according to the World Population Review.

The Bible Belt is a socially conservative Protestant Christian region that bases its political views and society on religious values. While this provides a sense of closeness for the people in this region, the separation between church and state is explicitly written in the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

So, the religious argument against these progressive policies and human rights is invalid because of this codified separation. 

Considering women have been fighting for control of their reproductive rights for so long, it brings a whole new level of frustration to the scenario that all the progress we have made is moving backward. 

Women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community being affected by the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision is a frustrating reality that is inevitable if this blatant disrespect for basic human rights continues. 

For a country that claims to be based on freedom, self-government and equality, it is confusing and frustrating that we still have to fight for control over their bodies, on top of fighting for our voices in voting and who we love and marry.