When did you grow up? The AIDS crisis? The birth of the Internet? I grew up in a rather unique era: the era of the introductory sci-fi film exhibit.
The special police units – BLADE RUNNER UNITS – had orders to shoot to kill, as soon as they were detected, any intruding replicants.
It wasn’t called execution.
It was called retirement.
Many science fiction films use an introductory exposition for contextualization. They prepare the public for the harrowing societal consequences of specific actions or inactions. In Blade Runner, it was the corporate takeover of humanity. In Children of Men, it was the sudden loss of fertility in the general population.
I’m not saying that I grew up in a time explicitly described by either of these two films. However, we live in an age of actions that jointly point to societal consequences like those of science fiction movies. We’re setting the introductory exhibit right now.
24 June 2022. The Overthrow of Roe v. Wade. With this decision, 22 states will ban or severely restrict abortion. These 22 had trigger laws, meaning they had been waiting for this day for a long time. Women have lost their right to privacy in a doctor’s office.
The message sent by this is appalling, but what is worse is the effect: there will be deaths. Not a 4 week fetus. A 35-year-old woman, mother of two, working poor with an ectopic pregnancy. A teenage victim of rape. A recent college grad with a septic miscarriage.
The deaths of these women are terrible and preventable. Moreover, a dark cyclical process is about to begin. If no deterrent to this decision is developed over the next two decades, the sci-fi movie will come to fruition.
Economic research tells us a lot about the future. More importantly, research indicates that access to abortion profoundly affects “if, when, and under what circumstances” women become mothers. As a result, it improves “marriage patterns, educational attainment, labor force participation, and earnings” (Brookings).
After:Letters to the Editor: Readers Share Their Opinions on the Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling
After:Guest Review: Roe v. Wade: Now what?
A critical study to note is the one conducted in 2021 regarding the disparity in the legalization of abortion. When abortion was legalized, women of color saw a 30-40% drop in maternal mortality (Pesko). White women, on the other hand, saw a minimal decrease. Women of color having less access to health care or financial stability to travel across state lines are the direct reason for this.
Four studies – conducted in 1996, 2004, 2020 and 2021 – all shared results regarding the effect of legalized abortion on education and financial success. It increased the level of education, participation in the labor market and professional prestige. More importantly, this increase was most noticeable among women of color. (Angris and Evans, Kalist, Pineda-Torres et al., Jones).
In these studies, the difference in wealth is evident. People of color have the highest poverty rate and white Americans have the lowest poverty rate. Roe v. Wade was a time in our history when the government worked to close the gap. The legalization of abortion has allowed people of all financial statuses to have equal access to safe abortions. Which, in turn, led to long-term changes such as better jobs, more secure children, and stronger marriages. Roe v. Wade was a step in the right direction. Undoubtedly, it was a strong and necessary help to the poor. All of this progress has been reversed.
After:Florida Pulse: Experts discuss the impact of new Florida laws starting July 1
For those who are worried about unborn babies, it’s time to start worrying about newborn babies. Legalizing abortion reduced child abuse and neglect (Bitler and Zavodny), reduced child poverty (Gruber et al.), and improved educational and financial outcomes for an entire generation (Ananat). In states like Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, child poverty rates are already among the highest in the country. What do these states have in common? Triggering laws. Their poverty rates will only increase. Children in these states will succumb to cycles of poverty brought about by decisions like the overthrow of Roe.
And what will not happen? The poor will not receive aid. The needy will not get health care. Foster homes will not receive assistance. There is nothing in place to support those affected by this decision. This will completely bifurcate our country; the wealth and class gaps will never be greater. There will be hard lines between first and second class citizens. The rich and the poor. Those who can afford an abortion and those who cannot. The beginning of the American dystopia.
The government controls reproductive decisions.
Is this the first line of our introductory talk? Is this the basis of society’s journey towards Kafka?
Don’t let it go any further. Don’t let us see that future. Don’t grow up my generation to live in a society like the one in a sci-fi movie.
Vote for the politician who aspires to help the poor. Vote for the politician who has experience in health care research. Vote for the politician who ran an education nonprofit for poor children.
Nick Diamond was born and raised in Southwest Florida, attending Naples Community School from K-12. He studied finance and public policy at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.