Save it, North Carolina Republicans. Banning abortion isn’t protecting lives

·4 min read
Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com

The Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the constitutional right to abortion, setting fire to nearly 50 years of federal protections, is nothing short of devastating.

Millions of Americans have effectively been rendered second-class citizens — and Republicans in North Carolina are celebrating.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who once benefited from an abortion, said he was “overjoyed” by the decision, noting that “for decades we have been praying for a day like today and it is finally here.” House Speaker Tim Moore called it “long overdue and a major win for protecting life!”

Ted Budd, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, recognized it as a “historic victory,” while congressman Dan Bishop crowed that Roe v. Wade is finally “where it belongs, in the ash heap of history.”

Friday’s ruling is none of those things.

Republicans insist this is about something righteous — protecting life. It is not, and it never was. It is about controlling people and their bodies. Because one thing is clear: banning abortion does not make anyone safer, and it certainly does not make people freer.

A lack of abortion access will cause people to suffer. It worsens existing economic disparities. An untimely or unwanted pregnancy that forces a person into parenthood can make it hard for them to work or keep going to school, because, after all, child care costs in this country are sky-high. The states where abortion will be banned in a post-Roe world also happen to be the states with the weakest social support systems, meaning more children and families will end up in poverty.

A lack of abortion access will also cause people to die. Studies show that abortion bans may lead to increases in pregnancy-related deaths, particularly among Black and brown people, exacerbating an already dire Black maternal health crisis. There’s also evidence that women who are denied an abortion are more likely to have serious complications, some of which can be life-threatening. In severe cases, abortion may be the only way to save the life of the mother.

Anti-abortion activists often mention adoption as an alternative, but that isn’t necessarily a good replacement for terminating a pregnancy. Pregnancy is expensive, and it is risky. The foster care system is already overburdened. Most of all, adoption doesn’t address the heart of the issue: that no one should have to carry a baby around in their stomach for nine months if they don’t want to.

Banning abortion won’t actually put a stop to abortion, because abortions will still happen. They will happen in blue states where abortion remains legal, and they will happen in red states where it is banned. Those willing to travel great distances or risk legal repercussions will still get abortions, as long as they can afford it. Those who don’t have that option — poor and marginalized people especially — will not. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

And really, for those morally opposed to abortion, this decision isn’t likely to radically change their life. They could always choose not to have an abortion. But for those who want to decide if and when to start a family, who want a say in what happens to their bodies — they may no longer get that choice at all.

Republicans don’t seem to care about that, and they don’t seem to care that much about life, either. If they did, they would protect children throughout the course of their lives, not just before they’re born. They’d support gun safety laws, and affordable health care. They would make sure people are fed and housed and stop trying to scale back programs that help lift them out of poverty. But they don’t do any of that, because their pro-life beliefs don’t seem to last past birth.

So, while Republicans gleefully bask in their “victory,” the rest of us will be mourning our loss. Because this decision is not a win. As a woman, I’ve long understood that the Republican politicians who claim to represent me don’t really care about me or my rights. I wish they would stop pretending that they do.

Paige Masten is an opinion writer and member of the Editorial Board based in Charlotte.