by Jake Johnson, courtesy of commondreams.org –
The right-wing majority of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on Friday, ending the constitutional right to abortion and imperiling access to reproductive healthcare nationwide.
The 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was issued along ideological lines, with all three liberal justices in opposition.
“With sorrow—for this court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” wrote Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer in their dissent.
The majority opinion was written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, whose decision delivers a long-sought victory to the dark money-fueled movement that has been targeting Roe for decades.
More than half of all U.S. states are expected to respond to the decision by enacting total abortion bans, laws that will likely have deadly consequences. In anticipation of the high court’s ruling, Republican lawmakers in states across the nation have already introduced dozens of bills that would restrict or completely prohibit abortion.
In 13 states—Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming—Republican-controlled legislatures have put in place “trigger bans” designed to outlaw abortion once Roe is overturned.
“In the states where abortion has been or will soon be banned, any pregnancy loss past an early cutoff can now potentially be investigated as a crime,” the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino wrote Friday. “Search histories, browsing histories, text messages, location data, payment data, information from period-tracking apps—prosecutors can examine all of it if they believe that the loss of a pregnancy may have been deliberate.”
At the national level, top anti-abortion organizations and their Republican allies in Congress are currently plotting their push for a federal abortion ban. Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled openness to legislation barring abortion care at the federal level.
“With this decision, the Supreme Court’s extreme right-wing supermajority has struck a tremendous blow to our fundamental freedoms,” said Christina Harvey, executive director of Stand Up America. “It is undeniable proof of how broken our nation’s highest court has become.”
“Our court has been overtaken by out-of-control political appointees with an extreme right-wing agenda,” Harvey added. “If we don’t do something to stop them, they will continue to attack our most basic rights, until we no longer recognize the country we live in.”
Nelini Stamp, director of strategy and partnerships at the Working Families Party, said the ruling marks “a dark day for our nation.”
“A right-wing Supreme Court has stripped women and people seeking abortions of their long-held rights to control their bodies,” said Stamp. “This radical decision is out of step with the values and beliefs of the American people, and will cause lasting harm for millions of people.”
The nation has been bracing for the Dobbs ruling since early May, when a draft opinion authored by Alito was leaked to Politico journalists. The official opinion released Friday aligns with the draft, which was widely condemned as a dangerous attack on reproductive freedoms, privacy rights, and much more.
“The Supreme Court has now mandated forced pregnancy, taking away an intensely personal freedom for pregnant people to make decisions about our own bodies with a doctor or loved one, and instead bringing politicians into your decision and your bedroom,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Every woman, every family, every pregnant person should fear what this means for their futures.”
“It is important that Americans understand that this Supreme Court and Republicans in Congress will not stop here,” Jayapal continued. “In the opinion, the [conservative] justices say explicitly that the court should reconsider ‘all substantive due process precedents,’ including the right to contraception, to same-sex marriage, and to same-sex relationships.”
As abortion rights groups prepare to mobilize in response to the high court’s ruling, President Joe Biden is facing pressure from Democratic lawmakers to do everything in his power to shield abortion rights as Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) obstruct legislative action.
In a letter sent hours before the decision came down, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) led a group of 20 Democratic congresswomen in imploring Biden to declare a public health emergency to combat the right-wing justices’ assault on reproductive freedoms.
“In this unprecedented moment, we must act urgently as if lives depend on it,” the lawmakers wrote, “because they do.”
As Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch noted in a blog post on Friday, “research has shown that when abortion is banned or restricted, abortions do not cease, they just move underground.”
“This increases the risk both of unsafe procedures and that people will be reported to police or prosecuted for suspected abortions,” Klasing wrote. “This is likely to particularly affect people who have historically had less access to health services due to discrimination and other systemic barriers, including adolescents; Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; people living in rural communities or in poverty; and people discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“The U.S.—which shockingly already has the highest maternal mortality rate among at least 10 other wealthy countries—should brace for maternal mortality and morbidity to rise, particularly among Black people and people living in poverty,” Klasing warned.