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Overturning Roe v. Wade is more than just an assault on reproductive rights

June 22, 2022, 10:15 AM UTC
A Supreme Court decision on the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is expected soon. A leaked draft opinion suggests the court may end federal protections around abortion rights.
Sarah Silbiger—Getty Images

As we look at the escalating assault on reproductive rights, we must wonder where this is going to end. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not only abolish nationwide access to reproductive freedoms–it could lead to a wholesale reversal of healthcare and privacy rights that we take for granted. 

When you think about the impacts this decision will have on the lives of so many, think about everybody who might not be able to make private and personal decisions about their healthcare in the future.

Roe’s impact on ‘overlooked’ communities

People of color and those in other marginalized and low-income communities, who already face barriers to healthcare, will suffer most if Roe v. Wade does get overturned. Over half of the Black population lives in the deep south, where healthcare policies are more conservative and could further expose financial and economic disadvantages.

Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy complications than white women due to systemic racism in our healthcare system. Even when brought up in a serious conversation, this fact is shrugged off as “nothing more than a flaw in sample size“. Many physicians–even today–are still taught that Black women have a higher pain tolerance than white women, and they aren’t always active listeners of their patients’ needs. While it would be easy to dismiss the issue once the child is born, disparities persist long after the maternity ward.

Of course, overturning Roe v. Wade won’t just impact people of color. For people living with disabilities, accessing appropriate reproductive healthcare services and provider clinics that can accommodate physical limitations is a pervasive and ongoing challenge.

An unwanted or medically dangerous pregnancy only further complicates the issue. Pregnancy rates among people with disabilities are like those of the nondisabled, yet those with disabilities experience much higher rates of pregnancy-related complications than the general population, making access to legalized abortion critical to protect their maternal health. Accessing appropriate services will be much harder for the disabled community as the physical and economic demands of traveling long distances or across state lines may be more challenging or outright impossible.

Let’s not forget about the transgender community. Transgender individuals are often left out of the conversation, but their connection to reproductive care should not go unnoticed. All those who were born with ovaries will face an even more pervasive challenge if privacy-related rights like access to contraception or gender-affirming care continue to be threatened by a slippery slope of legal assaults. Clinics that provide abortions also provide crucial reproductive care such as puberty blockers and hormones, a resource many trans people rely on for everyday healthcare.

The decision made by nine people will be felt by everyone with ovaries. It shows how fragile the freedoms we have fought for are in the hands of the Supreme Court.

An assault on privacy and freedom

Anyone who thinks the overturning of Roe v. Wade is solely about abortion is missing both the point and the greater looming threat to our freedoms. There is a much larger conversation to be had around access to reproductive rights and healthcare freedom.

The erosion of reproductive freedoms this decision would usher in is an invasion by the government on the rights of its citizens to make decisions regarding their healthcare. Why should a person’s choice to undergo a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy be different from other procedures?

Disrupting people’s privacy is also having a number of unforeseen consequences. For example, a movement by the anti-privacy contingent is suggesting that companies who help employees terminate their pregnancies, even in another state, should not be able to do business in Texas.

These policies essentially get between an employer and the benefits they want to offer their employees and mean that benefits can now be dictated by the state. The same movement has tried to implement “bathroom bills,” designed to keep transgender people from using public restrooms, but corporations have fought back against these draconian measures. In Florida, Disney is under fire for not supporting anti-LBGTQ laws, and their business could be impacted.

If companies do experience economic problems or relocate out of states that are forcing certain rules, the state economy–and the availability of jobs–will be diminished as a result.

Reproductive rights could be the first of the privacy rights to disappear for many Americans–but it won’t stop there. Emboldened anti-privacy advocates are already turning their attention to restricting access to other areas of reproductive health, marriage rights, and any number of issues that should be considered personal and off limits.

An uncertain future

Many states are already working to codify new laws to protect the privacy and reproductive rights of women and other vulnerable populations. But even with successful state-led protection of those rights, overturning Roe v. Wade will impact access to safe and legal care everywhere. Any person concerned about their legal guarantee of privacy and access to reproductive care in the post-Roe era must prepare now, no matter in which state they reside.

In the words of the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “The side that wants to take the choice away from women and give it to the state, they’re fighting a losing battle. Time is on the side of change.”

We all need to stand up to make privacy and healthcare a priority in our country. We must find the right resources to ensure continued access to reproductive care and fight against continued encroachment on personal freedoms.

If we don’t do that, we could find that we are living in a very different world, one where laws are able to dictate people’s personal choices and access to basic care.

Carrie SiuButt is the CEO of SimpleHealth.

The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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