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During the last fifty years, Roe v. Wade has provided federal constitutional protection and allowed women to take control over their own bodies and have children when they are financially and emotionally able to, should they choose to do so. The landmark civil rights decision in 1973 held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause provides a “right to privacy,” and therefore, protects a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy, subject to balancing the state’s right to impose limited restrictions.

The decision, along with two previous Supreme Court decisions involving the right to use contraceptives, substantially changed the socioeconomic status of women in our country. A short history lesson. Eight years earlier, the Supreme Court overturned a law in Connecticut that criminalized the counseling and use of contraceptives because the law intruded into marital privacy. And only a year before Roe was decided, the Supreme Court concluded that unmarried women were also entitled to use contraceptives because of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In May this year, it was reported that a majority of justices on the Supreme Court are ready to overturn Roe v. Wade. Justice Alito has preliminarily stated that the citizens of each state should regulate or prohibit abortion and that there is no constitutional basis for protecting a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. He is wrong.

A reproductive choice is a basic civil right that should continue to be constitutionally protected. The implications of overturning Roe are much larger and more far reaching than just the right to privately decide whether to terminate a pregnancy. When a state restricts reproductive choices, it forces a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. Involuntary servitude is a prohibited form of slavery under the Thirteenth Amendment to the federal constitution.

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No state forces anyone to have an abortion. On the other hand, when a state requires an individual to carry a pregnancy to term, it does so at the cost of an individual’s health and welfare. Limiting reproductive choice forces individual females of childbearing age to involuntarily undergo the physical rigors of pregnancy, rigors that can deplete vitamins and minerals and change the body’s anatomy. It also forces females to undergo the excruciating pain of child birth, along with the psychological and emotional aftermath of childbirth–all can potentially be detrimental to the individual’s health.

Prior to the civil war, states regulated slavery state-by-state, similar to what the Supreme Court now intends that states can do with reproductive choice. Overturning Roe v. Wade’s constitutional protection will create a hardship in some states for only one class of citizen females. If the Supreme Court allows state-by-state regulation on the fundamental issue of reproductive choice, what will prevent the Supreme Court from overturning other basic civil right protections in the future?