The Fall of Roe v. Wade is About Coercive Reproductive Labor
As we brace for a regression in abortion rights, we have to reckon with what coercive pregnancies mean in white supremacist capitalism.
Donald Trump was clear about his intentions to appoint three conservative Supreme Court justices while he was in office: he wanted them to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent that established a constitutional right to abortion. Last week, when the court heard arguments that could strike down the constitutional right to abortion, people with uteruses had a rude awakening that Trump may have succeeded. According to predictions published in the media, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned and 13 states have trigger laws in place that will immediately ban abortion.
Overturning Roe could potentially change the lives of millions of Americans, and not for the better. According to a study published in 2017, women who are denied an abortion were more likely to experience economic hardship than women who had access to the procedure. The study concludes that laws that restrict access to abortion may result in worsened economic outcomes for women, and that these effects might take years to shake off. Already existing restrictions prevent many working class and racialized women from getting abortions, thus locking them out of any upward mobility and forcing them into low-paying jobs and unending poverty. This is why we should be understanding a possible Roe v. Wade strike down as a class issue as well as an issue of bodily autonomy.
Most people who get abortions do so because they cannot, somehow, raise a child. Be that an economic choice or an evaluation of that person’s life in the present, or simply the lack of desire for a child, getting an abortion means you are taking ownership of your life. Instead of sacrificing yourself for the nuclear family, you are deciding to do something else. There is not much choice in white supremacist capitalism — after all, the inverse is also true, since having children in the US is one of the most expensive things you can do, and mothers are often forced out of the workforce because of the childrearing burdens they are forced to take on— but at least some people were able to choose when and…