Emily’s Weekly Political Scoop: Roe vs Wade and the Conditions of the Migrant Shelters at the Southern Border


Emily Landolfi, Staff Writer

Roe vs. Wade and the current conditions in the migrant shelters at the Southern Border: difficult topics to swallow but necessary to know. Let’s dive right in. 

Roe vs. Wade was established in 1973 that legalized women’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, otherwise known as having an abortion, in the first six months of her pregnancy as the fetus is unable to survive outside of the womb at that point. However, on Monday the 17th, the Supreme Court agreed to think about a rollback of long-established abortion rights. They stated that in the next term, they will investigate whether the state laws that ban previability abortions, which are abortions when the fetus is incapable of surviving outside of the uterus, should be deemed unconstitutional (Totenberg).

What sparked the Supreme Court’s statements? Mississippi’s law to eliminate or incredibly restrict abortions, banning them 15 weeks after conception which is roughly 11 weeks before fetus viability. A panel of the most conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the country blocked enforcement of Mississippi’s law as it majorly conflicts with Roe vs. Wade. The Mississippi appeal has been awaiting disposition since last fall and justices have listed it on the weekly conference for discussion 17 times before Monday. Nancy Northap, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, has stated the reversal of Roe vs. Wade would have severe consequences, and Julie Rikelam has said that roughly 24 states would inflict laws banning abortion all together (Totenberg).

Until now, 12 other states have been rejected pre-viability abortion laws such as in 2016 when the Supreme Court struck down a six-week ban in North Dakota. However, the state of the court has changed a lot since then with the death of reproductive rights advocate Justice Ruth Vader Ginsburg, the retirement of centrist conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy who supported abortion rights, the add-on of three Trump appointees, and the introduction of the new Justice Amy Coney Barrett who critics abortion. All of this put together has resulted in the current standing of the court, 6-3 conservative majority, with all 6 opposing abortion at a certain time. Overall, the steps that are being considered by the Supreme Court today will determine the future of Roe vs. Wade and abortion rights in the United States (Totenberg).

The current situation at the Southern Border is overwhelming and currently tens of thousands of migrant children are in safer emergency shelters after being transported from jail-like detention facilities. Overall, the Biden Administration is caring for about 20,000 migrant children who did not immigrate with parents and are now residing in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services including a convention center in Dallas. However, how safe are these mass shelters? Immigration advocates are showing concern for these conditions and Leecia Welch, an attorney at the nonprofit National Center for Youth Law, stated that there were many traumatized children at the El Paso, Texas military base Fort Bliss. She reported that many girls were crying in tents and were experiencing thoughts of self-harm with no one to talk to (Ordoñez).

The Biden Administration has emphasized that the shelters have an under-resourced program for the children, and a senior administration official has claimed that the average stay at the shelters dropped from 45 to 30 days, but some kids have been staying longer than this. For example, 16-year-old Lidia Cuyuch Brito from Guatemala has resided in U.S. government custody for 70 days. Further, advocates are concerned that there is too little of an amount of caseworkers working to reconnect families and investigate sponsors. Lidia Cuyuch Brito’s 32-year-old sister Juana living in Iowa City has reported that she’s sent paperwork to seek custody of her younger sister multiple times, but has only got little information from their response (Ordoñez).

Clara Long of Human Rights Watch expressed her desire to get kids out of detention facilities but with the use of the emergency shelters expanding, that goal seems farther away. She explained that due to the prior focus being infrastructure and transferring kids into larger, warehouse-ish facilities, the result is the mass holding of kids in these centers that we see today. The administration is defending these facilities; however, the concern for the conditions for these children is only increasing (Ordoñez).

I hope that you were able to learn more about these topics and gain a better understanding of what has been happening his week. Come back for more weekly political news! 

Works Cited 

Ordoñez, Franco. “Advocates Say Biden Administration Is Violating Pact On Detaining Migrant Children.” NPR, NPR, 21 May 2021, www.npr.org/2021/05/21/998804449/advocates-say-biden-administration-is-violating-pact-on-detaining-migrant-childr. 

Totenberg, Nina. “In Challenge To Roe, Supreme Court To Review Mississippi Abortion Law.” NPR, NPR, 17 May 2021, www.npr.org/2021/05/17/997478374/supreme-court-to-review-mississippi-abortion-ban.