Courageous Conversations virtual panel discusses the reversal of Roe v. Wade

Last Friday, Sept. 16, Cleveland State’s Courageous Conversations held a virtual panel discussing the history and impact of Roe v. Wade and the recent supreme court decision to overturn the constitutional right. The panel included four highly respected female speakers, Professor April Cherry of CSU School of Law, Senator Nickie Antonio, Dr. Vada Mack, and Ohio’s ACLU policy director, Jocelyn Rosnick. Each panelist explained a different aspect of Roe v. Wade and the impact the reversal could have on women. 

At the start of the panel discussion, Cherry was asked to explain the legal impacts and history of Roe vs. Wade. 

“Roe vs. Wade was a 1973 case decided by the Supreme Court and involved a Texas statute criminalizing and procuring of abortion,” Cherry said. “Except in the case where the pregnant woman’s life was at risk and the plaintiff in the case, Jane Roe, was a pregnant woman who lived in the state of Texas, who had an abortion, whose life was not at risk.”

Cherry stated that all individuals have a right to privacy under the 14th amendment because it is a “liberty interest”. Therefore, the government cannot interfere with women’s reproductive choices. 

Antonio was asked what the present and future legislative impacts are and could be after the reversal of Roe vs Wade. 

“I truly believe that this election will determine what kind of a lame duck session we have in the state of Ohio,” Antonio explained. 

Antonio emphasized the importance of voting in the November election in order for Ohio’s government to hear the voices of the people who do not agree with women having their reproductive and fundamental rights being taken from them. 

“I can tell you that as I talk to people in my community, people self-identify in all kinds of political stripes. But they say on this issue, they’ve all gone too far. This has gone too far,” Antonio explained. “And so I do believe for sure that there is a ballot initiative in Ohio’s future in the next year or two, as well as that, I think the strict hard line approach will be dependent on the outcomes of this election.”

Dr. Mack was asked to speak on the current and future medical impacts of the overturning of Roe vs.Wade. 

Dr. Mack explained some of the health concerns that could arise following the decision, which included higher rates of sterilization, a rise of self-managed abortions, and higher infant mortality rates, especially in women of color. 

“So, again, it’s just not that one decision that we’re talking about. This decision, as I stated before, has a trickle down effect and it can really, really have a detrimental effect on a woman’s right to choose, a woman’s right to have effective and reproductive health care,” stated Dr.Mack. 

The panelists gave the CSU students who attended the discussion lots of insight on the impact this reversal could have on women currently and in the future, and what citizens can do to take action. 

Rosnick ended the panel discussion by explaining how Ohio’s supreme court responded to the reversal and that concerned Ohioans should be talking about this issue with their loved ones and going to the polls to vote.

“We know from the polling that Ohioans agree that everyone deserves to get health care, that they need, when they need it, inside their own community. Traveling out of state, It simply isn’t a reality for many individuals,” Rosnick said. “And any and all abortion bans that harm one community affect all of our communities, and we just need to emphasize that together in conversations.”