United States Supreme Court Likely to Dramatically Change Access To Abortion in Summer 2022
As of now, abortion is considered a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade. Roe was decided in 1973 when the Supreme Court held that the right for a woman to get an abortion is protected under the implied right to privacy that is in the “penumbras” of the constitution. This right to privacy extends to people’s private lives, including sex, contraception, marriage, child rearing, and abortion.
There have been challenges to abortion before, but none as flagrant as the case that the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which asks the Supreme Court “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” The state of Mississippi, where this clinic is located, is hoping that the Supreme Court will answer “yes.”
The new ultra-conservative majority is will almost certainly roll make abortion rights for millions of women, but it is unclear how far they may go. The sponsors of this lawsuit even admitted to bringing this suit because of the change in the Court’s makeup. If Roe is completely overruled, twelve states have trigger laws in place that would criminalize abortion immediately, with other states sure the follow.
During the oral arguments, the justices gave a glimpse into what their stances are. The newest justice Amy Barrett has been vocal about her anti-abortion views in the past. She’s a devout Catholic and has adopted children. Her views on adoption were apparent during the oral arguments when she made the bizarre suggestion that women who did not want to be mothers could simply carry the pregnancy to term, give birth, and drop the baby off at a fire station for someone else to adopt. Barret ignored the burden of pregnancy itself and instead focused on parenthood in her questioning.
Chief Justice Roberts argued that if the issue is one of choice, then the viability limited does not matter. He did not see an issue with cutting off abortion access at 15 weeks. Most states now allow abortion up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy, with some states varying both ways. However, the vast majority of women abort before 12 weeks. Abortions happening after the first trimester are usually wanted pregnancies where something goes horribly wrong, such as a dire medical condition. Roberts seems to ignore these types of situations with his line of reasoning.
Justice Kavanaugh took the position that will likely control which is that it should be left up to the states whether or not abortion will be allowed. He wants to court to be neutral on the issue. If this is the case, abortion will split evenly among party lines with red states outlawing abortion and blue states allowing it. Women from red states would be forced to travel to blue states for the procedure, and this option would only be available to wealthier women.
Justice Thomas does not believe abortion is a constitutional right because it is not in the text of the constitution. Thomas’s believes arethat if it’s not explicitly written in the constitution, it’s not a right.
Further, Justice Alito did not think that the right to abortion has any historical basis in our country. He also argued that the Supreme Court can overturn precedent that it thinks is outdated and wrong, citing Plessy v. Ferguson a case that created the idea of separate but equal faculties in segregation.
Time will tell what exactly the Supreme Court will decide, however it seems clear that we should prepare for a huge rollback in abortion access coming this summer. While this is what I expect to see based on the oral argument, I do not believe this would be a correct interpretation of the Constitution. I think the right to privacy is firmly rooted in the Constitution and that the Court correctly decided Roe v. Wade and that the limitation the Court placed on the right of abortion in the Casey case went far enough and that the United States Court should respect its precedent and reaffirm Roe and Casey. The liberal wing of the Court needs both the Chief Justice and Justice Barrett to vote to reaffirm Roe. While predicting how the Court will rule based on the oral argument, it appears that the right to an abortion may be severely restricted when the decision comes this summer. I believe this ruling will be incorrect interpretation of the Constitution and undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as it will appear to be a political body rather than interpreting the law without a policy agenda.
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