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Roe v. Wade, Young People and the Supreme Court

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December 10, 2013

ThinkProgress recently published a fantastic yet depressing report on the Supreme Court’s gradual and subtle weakening of Roe v. Wade which has effectively nullified the right to an abortion in the United States. For many young people, reports like these may be one of the first instances where court cases that occurred after Roe v. Wade become visible.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey has serious implications for young people in the United States, specifically legal minors and those who may need financial assistance. In Casey, the Supreme Court ruled that a state could impose 24-hour waiting periods and parental consent requirements without violating Roe v. Wade’s abortion guarantee. But for many young people, requirements like these effectively violate their right to the entire offering of reproductive choices.

Take for example a young woman whose parents staunchly oppose abortion yet who are also abusive.  For her, parental consent requirements not only disregard her personal agency and ability to make a personal choice, they may put her in danger if she has to report her pregnancy to her parents.

For young people who need to keep their abortion secret from family or friends, 24-hour waiting periods are also dangerous as they make it all the more difficult for a young person who must take time off school or give their parents reasons for being away.  This is especially true for young people living in states where abortion clinics are few and far between, not to mention prohibitively expensive.

As a young American progressive, I grew up learning that the 1973 Roe assured me a right to an abortion and that once the Supreme Court released the ruling their decision was final – I would never be restricted by my government from making the reproductive decision I deemed fit for myself.  As I continue to grow older and learn more about American policies on reproductive rights, I continue to learn that that is simply not the case.

Young people are one of the populations most vulnerable to reproductive justice restrictions as we are often dependent on our parents or guardians or financially unstable, making it difficult or impossible for us to jump through unnecessary hoops in order to secure choices about our own reproductive health. That’s why it’s so important for us to learn more about the actual state of reproductive justice in our country – so we can defend our rights and challenge the status quo.

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